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From the collection of the 

^ Uibrary 

San Francisco, California 








OF CANADA, Limited 







Federal Writers' Project 


John W. Troy, Governor of Alaska, Sponsor 



Copyright, I93<), by 

AH rights reserved — no part of this book may be 
reproduced in any form without permission in writing 
from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes 
to quote brief passages in connection with a review 
written for inclusion in macrazine or newspaper. 

Set up and clectrotypcd. Published July, 1939. 



Scarcely more than a generation ago, well within the memory of 
many living Alaskans, the news was flashed in 1897 over telegraph 
wires that the steamer Portland had arrived in Seattle with "a ton of 
gold." Immediately a feverish interest was awakened in a little-known 
and still largely unexplored possession of the United States — Alaska. 
Names made famiUar during the days that followed— Klondike, Chil- 
koot Pass, Yukon Trail, Nome Beach— and the exploits of those con- 
nected with them — are familiar to every school child and have passed 
into the written and unwritten folklore of the nation. 

Even more important, and certainly no less dramatic, is the less- 
known Alaska of today — the Alaska of graveled automobile roads, of 
airplanes, used as casually by Alaskans as are taxis in continental 
United States, of giant gold dredges, of great fishing fleets, of farms 
with the latest in modern equipment, of homes set in frames of flowers 
and surrounded with vegetable gardens, of large shops, theaters, 
churches, schools, clubs, newspapers, and America's farthest-north 
university. Alaska may be the United States' "last frontier," but in its 
application of tomorrow's techniques to present-day mining and agri- 
culture, in its revolutionary use of air transportation, in the energy 
and inventiveness of its citizens, Alaska deserves no less the name of 
the United States' "foremost frontier." Readers with vague schoolroom 
ideas of Alaska as a frozen land of ice and snow, the principal occupa- 
tions of whose inhabitants are panning gold and hunting bear, may, 
as they turn these pages, find themselves deprived of many cherished 
illusions, but they will be compensated with some of the most sig- 
nificant episodes in the stirring story of America. 

I am happy to sponsor this volume, in the hope that it not only will 
bring to residents of continental United States a renewed interest in 
their fellow-Americans of Alaska, but will encourage them to see with 
their own eyes Alaska's physical grandeur and its hardly less remark- 
able technological development. The selection of the subject matter, 
however, and the editing and arrangement of material are the sole 
responsibility of the writer selected for this task by the Federal Writers' 
Project of the Works Progress Administration. 

John W. Troy 
Governor of Alaska 


F. C. Harrington, Administrator 

Florence S. Kerr, Assistant Administrator 

Henry G. Alsberg, Director, the Federal Writers' Project 


The best way to know Alaska is to spend a lifetime there. The next 
best is to experience the return of the seasons there. The year begins, 
according to the Tlingit Indian calendar, in the latter part of August, 
when birds come down from the mountains and animals begin to 
prepare their winter dens. There may be heat prostrations in Fair- 
banks, but a few miles eastward along Steese Highway the caribou 
on Eagle Summit sniff at the first flakes of snow and begin to drift 
down into the valleys. In Bristol Bay, according to the white man's 
simpler calendar, the first season — fishing time — is over, the midseason 
— play time — is at its height, and the last season — trapping time — is not 
yet at hand. Frost comes one morning to the vegetable garden, placer 
miners work feverishly to make their winter grubstakes, Matanuska 
farmers harvest their crops, and giant squash and potatoes are on 
view at district fairs. September, the Small Moon, begins when fish 
and berries fail. Then comes the Big Moon, October, when snow 
creeps down the mountains, fur animals put on thicker coats, and 
trappers lay out their lines. In November, the Snow Moon, the shallow 
waters of Bristol Bay freeze, Nome and Barrow are icebound, and 
planes discard wheels for skis. Soon comes the silence of December, 


when from ihe heights above Fairbanks the hunter, eating his midday 
meal, sees a white plume over the whistle of the Northern Commer- 
cial Company and long seconds later hears the thin shriek of noon; 
when the trapper in his cabin lays a batch of freshmade doughnuts on 
the shelf above the stove and they immediately freeze; when auto- 
mobile roads are drifted high and the snowplow whirrs along the 
Alaska Railroad; when dogs mush ahead of the sleds of Eskimo and 
Athapascan drivers, and planes can land anywhere; when to sweat on 
a lonely trail is to freeze and die. December is the Mothers' Moon, 
when man, perpetually born out of season, shivers in his house, but 
every land and water animal, warm in its mother's womb, begins to 
grow hair. In January, the Goose Moon, the geese look northward 
and their mentor the sun actually starts on his return journey, while 
across the northern sky the aurora borealis marches with banners. 
In February, the Bear Moon, the sleeping black bear turns over on his 
other side. March is the Sea Flower Moon, when all things under the 
sea begin to grow; April, the Moon of Real Flowering, when plants 
on the earth begin to show life. May is the Hatching Moon. June 
is the Salmon Moon, when Caesar's dancing fish return from thou- 
sand-mile journeys to spawn, each in the fresh-water stream of its 
birth, and Indian women dip spruce branches in the streams and lift 
them out laden with Alaska caviar. July is the Moon of Birth, not 
only for animals but for towns — tent cities are born beside a mound 
of gold-bearing gravel or a platinum mountain, and ghost villages 
come back to life; prospectors take to the hills, the air is full of the 
clatter of dredges, the shriek of sawed timber, the putter of fishing 
boats; a fleet of antiquated oceanliners carrying fishermen anchors 
in Bristol Bay; harpooners hunt the whale; airplane motors roar 
endlessly as all Alaska hurries through the sky; and hordes of 
"round-trippers" crowd the hotels and buy Haida carvings, Eskimo 
ivory, Tlingit totem poles, Aleut baskets. Last comes, in the first part 
of August, the thirteenth month, the Fattening Moon, when animals 
deposit fat in the banks under their skins and whites and Natives 
reckon up their silver dollars at the year's end. 

The least satisfactory way of learning about Alaska is to read about 
it, gnawing one's way through a few of the more than 10,000 books 
about Alaska that have appeared in Russian, German, French, Spanish, 
and English since 1724, sampling random issues of the 227 news- 
papers that have at one time or another been printed there, wading 


through some of the 3,500 pubHc documents issued by government 
agencies about the Territory, 

But most people who want to know more about our last frontier 
compromise on a short summer trip to Alaska, taking along the best 
guidebook available. In these pages an attempt has been made to 
furnish that guide. "Great is the power of the guidebook maker, 
however ignorant," wrote John Muir in his diary during a trip to 
Alaska in 1890, explaining that most travelers see only what they 
are told to see. He might have added that guidebooks fall into two 
classes: the didactic guide that leads the traveler firmly by the hand 
from each point of interest to the next, chiding him solemnly for any 
deviation from the established route; and the discursive guide that 
enlivens the journey with an unpremeditated hop, skip, or jump, in the 
hope that the reader will occasionally lift his eyes from its pages to 
look about for himself. In the present volume the formal guidebook 
pattern has been followed whenever it has seemed to suit the con- 
venience of the traveler, but an attempt has been made not only to 
describe points of interest along well-established routes, but to por- 
tray for the general reader something of the history, heritage, and 
humor that is Alaska's own. 

The first section of this book, "Preliminary Information," is de- 
signed to answer questions of immediate concern to the traveler, as 
well as to supply condensed general information about subjects treated 
in greater detail elsewhere. "Popular Errors" attempts to correct mis- 
conceptions common among people who have not visited the north. 
"The Six Alaskas" orients the visitor among the main physical and 
political divisions of the country. "Tours for Round-Trippers" de- 
scribes the main tourist routes. 

Part I: "The Great Land" is intended to serve as a general intro- 
duction to the Territory and its people. 

Part II: "The Last Frontier" describes in detail major regions, 
towns, and communities, and is so arranged that a traveler making 
one of the usual tours (see "Tours for Round-Trippers") may use 
these chapters as a guide over his route. Description and information 
too detailed to be included in "Preliminary Information" or in Part I 
will be found under its locality. (Consult the index.) In the pages 
preceding the index will be found an acknowledgment of sources con- 
sulted and a recommended reading list of books about Alaska. 

The reader should note that trips are planned primarily for the 


summer, the season in which most visitors travel in Alaska. Popula- 
tion figures, unless otherwise indicated, are those of the Fifteenth 
(1930) United States Census. Figures later than the fifteenth census 
are estimates. Temperatures are Fahrenheit. Altitudes are indicated 
only where significant. The abbreviation p.o. means that the locality 
had a post office in 1938, and rn. can mean nothing but mile or miles. 

Among the hundreds of organizations, agencies, and individuals 
who have furnished information or assistance in connection with the 
preparation of this guide should be mentioned John W. Troy, gov- 
ernor of Alaska; Anthony J. Dimond, Alaska delegate to the Congress; 
Harry B. Watson, secretary to the governor; Col. O. F. Ohlson, general 
manager of the Alaska Railroad; W. Harold Snell, assistant general 
manager; J. G. Blanchard, general passenger agent of the White Pass 
and Yukon Route; Dr. A. C. Bunnell, president of the University of 
Alaska; the Rev. A. P. Kashevarof?, curator of the Territorial Mu- 
seum; Homer W. Jewell, assistant executive officer of the Alaska Game 
Commission; Hal Gould and Florence Tobin of Ketchikan; James 
Wickersham, author of the monumental Bibliography of Alasl^an 
Literature; the Territorial Chamber of Commerce and many secre- 
taries of local chambers; the editors of the Alaska Sportsman, Anchor- 
age Daily Times, Farthest North Collegian, Fair ban kj Daily News- 
Miner, Alaska Empire, AlasJ^a Press, Alaska Miner, Alaska Labor 
Dispatch, Cordova Daily Times, Ketchikan-Alasl{a Chronicle, Alasl^a 
Fishing News, Nome Nugget, Petersburg Press, Seward Gateway, 
Valdez Miner, Valley Settler, and Wrangell Sentinel. Many agencies 
and individuals outside Alaska should be mentioned, among whom 
are Dr. Ernest Gruening, chief of the Division of Territories and Island 
Possessions, Department of the Interior, and Paul W. Gordon of the 
Alaska Division, both of whom kindly read this book and furnished 
useful suggestions; Dr. Carl L. Alsberg, of the Alaska Resources 
Committee, who has permitted the use, often verbatim, of staff reports 
submitted to his committee; Charles W. Eliot, 2d, executive officer of 
the National Resources Committee; Henry B. Collins, Jr., and Dr. 
J. R. Swanton of the Bureau of American Ethnology; Carl Lomen of 
Lomen Brothers; Dr. Jeannette Nichols; and Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefans- 
son. The stafT of the New York Public Library cheerfully made avail- 
able its collection of books, prints, and periodicals relating to Alaska. 

Many other persons both in and out of Alaska have furnished in- 
formation and assistance, as have traders, schoolteachers, priests, miners, 


roadhouse proprietors, postmasters, and other Alaskans both white 
and Native. The Alaska Steamship Company permitted the use of 
copyright photographs and drawings, individually credited, and has 
supplied much information of value to tourists. Thanks are due the 
above and hundreds more who assisted in the collection of facts; the 
arrangement and any interpretation of these should not be construed 
as the opinions of the Works Progress Administration, the sponsor of 
this volume, or any Federal or Territorial agency, but are the sole 
responsibility of the author. 

Alaska is perhaps the most rapidly changing section of the United 
States, and no guidebook can hope to keep up with it. Settlements 
that this year are small camps may next year be roaring boom towns 
or be already fading into ghost villages. So widely has our knowledge 
of the Territory been extended in the present generation that the 
Alaska described in Eliza Scidmore's excellent guide, published al- 
most forty years ago, occupies scarcely more than a single chapter in 
the present volume. Even the most recent guide, the last edition of 
which appeared in 1922, bears little relation to present-day Alaska. 

In the process of rechecking factual statements, information later 
than that of the fifteenth census and facts likely to be of interest to 
the visitor were requested from each of the towns, villages, and settle- 
ments listed in the official Postal Guide. Most of these responded 
helpfully, although occasionally there would arrive such a letter as 
the following: "This place is nothing but a cannery. A tourist would 
have a hard time getting a cup of coffee." Because of the remoteness 
of many places described and the difficulty of checking thousands of 
factual statements at a distance, some errors have undoubtedly slipped 
through. Alaskans and others are urged to point out to the author, in 
care of the publisher, errors of omission or commission, that these may 
be corrected in succeeding editions. 

Merle Colby 



Foreword by John W. Troy, Governor of Alaska v 

Preface vii 

Preliminary Information xxi 

Popular Errors About Alaska xliii 

The Six Alaskas xlvii 

Tours for "Round-Trippers" Iv 


1. Alaska Comes of Age 3 

2. History 17 

3. The People 41 

Population 41 

The Whites 43 

The Natives 44 

Labor 48 

4. Government 53 

5. Natural Wealth 56 

Fish and Aquatic Animals 57 

Minerals 64 

Fur 72 

Reindeer 73 

Agriculture 76 

Forests 81 



6. Commerce 85 

7. Transportation 92 

8. Communication 99 

9. National Defense 104 


1. The Inside Passage and Southeastern Alaska hi 

Seattle to 54° 40' by Ocean Steamer Hi 

Southeastern Alaska 124 

2. The Yukon Trail 176 

Juneau to Skagway by Ocean Steamer 176 
Skagvvay to Whitehorse by the White Pass and Yukon 

Railway 184 

Whitehorse to Dawson by River Steamer 189 

Dawson to Nenana by River Steamer 201 

Tanana to Yukon Delta by River Steamer 208 

3. Glacier Country and the old Copper River Railroad 212 

Juneau to Cordova by Ocean Steamer 212 
Cordova to Chitina by the Copper River and Northwest- 
ern Railroad 227 

4. The Richardson Trail 230 

Cordova to Valdez by Ocean Steamer 230 
Valdez to Willow Creek by the Richardson Highway 235 
Willow Creek to Chitina by the Edgerton Cutoff 242 
Chitina to Kennicott by the Copper River and North- 
western Railroad 244 
Willow Creek to Fairbanks by the Richardson Highway 246 

5. By Rail to the Interior 255 

Valdez to Seward by Ocean Steamer 255 

Seward to Fairbanks by the Alaska Railroad 261 



6. The Golden Heart 293 

Fairbanks and Vicinity 293 

Fairbanks to Circle by the Steese Hignway 305 

7. To THE Westward 315 

Seward to Bristol Bay by Ocean Steamer 315 

8. Bristol Bay and the Kuskokwim Country 350 

Bristol Bay 350 

Dillingham to Bethel 355 

The Bering Sea Coast to the Mouth of the Yukon 358 

Bethel to Fairbanks by Plane 360 

9. Seward Peninsula and Northwestern Alaska 362 

St. Michael to Nome 362 

Nome and Vicinity 364 

Nome to Kotzebue Sound 381 

10. The Arctic 392 

Kotzebue Sound to Barrow 396 

An Arctic Neighbor (Arctic Siberia) 402 

Books About Alaska 405 

Acknowledgments 413 

Index 419 



Forest Floor, Sitka 
Delphiniums Grow High 
"Alaska Cotton" 
Near the Alaska Railroad 
Crater of Mt. Edgecumbe 

Tongass Forest in Winter 

Taku Glacier 
Dawes Glacier 

Alaska Flowers 

Alaska Flowers 

Sunset View from Wrangell 

Entrance to Sitka Harbor 

"Spawning Creek" by F. Lo Pinto 

"Glacier" by F. Lo Pinto 

Polk Inlet 

Mt. McKinley 

Farming Near Fairbanks 

Federal School, Sitka 

Auk Lake and Mendenhall Glacier 

Sea Gulls 

between 60 and 61 

W. L. High ton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
U. S. Navy, Forest Service, 

Geological Survey 
U. S. Navy, Forest Service, 

Geological Survey 
Alas\a Steamship Company 
U. S. Navy, Forest Service, 

Geological Survey 
U. S. Forest Service 
AlasJ^a Steamship Company 
W. L. Highton 
Alas\a Steamship Company 
Federal Art Project, WPA 
Federal Art Project, WPA 
U. S. Forest Set- vice 
National Par\ Service 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
Alas\a Steamship Company 
W. L. Highton 


West Coast of North America by 

lonathan Swift, 1740 
The De Lisle Map of the North Pacific, 


Interior on Nootka Sound 

Hunting Walruses 

Advertisements, 1898 

The Prospector 

Signboard (luneau Museum) 

bettveen \ii and 123 

Second Voyage of Lemuel 

Courtesy, H. R. Wagner, Cartog- 
raphy of the Northwest 
Coast of America 

Cook's Voyages 

Cook's Voyages 

Courtesy, N. Y. Public Library 

U. S. Forest Service 

W. L. Highton 



Mountain Climbing Expedition 

Telephone Line 

Modern Gold Dredge 

Weighing Salmon 

Sorting Gold Ore 

Tourist Steamer 

Lawing Lodge (Kenai Peninsula) 

Golf-Course at Anchorage 

Pan American Airways 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 


Panning for Gold 

Trapper's Cabin 

Standing Salmon Trap 

Floating Salmon Trap 


Gold-Dredge Buckets 

Drift Mining 

Cold- Water Thawing 

Alaska Juneau Gold Mill 

Alaska Timber 

Log Boom 

Interior at Healy 

Healy Coal Mines 

Hemlock and Spruce, Polk Inlet 

Dairies Near Mendenhall Glacier 

Hayfields at Matanuska 

between 152 and 153 

U. S. Forest Service 
U. S. Forest Service 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
U. S. Forest Service 
U. S. Forest Service 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
U. S. Forest Service 
U. S. Forest Service 
Alaska Rural Rehabilitation 


Tourist Steamer 
The Inside Passage 
Fishing Fleet 

Entering Ketchikan 

Lake Spenard 

Bartlett Glacier from the Alaska Rail 

Mt. McKinley at Night 
Loop District on the Alaska Railroad 
Hurricane Gulch Bridge 
Knik River Bridge 
Old and New in Transportation 

The Dog Team 

Highway Near Fairbanks 

betiveen 182 and 183 

W. L. Highton 

Alaska Steamship Company 

Petersburg Chamber of 

W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 
The Alas\a Railroad 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
Delano Studios, courtesy Anthony 

/. Dimond 
Pan American Airways 
W. L. Highton 



Juneau ^ 


Aerial View of Fairbanks 

Winter Noon at Fairbanks 





Father Duncan's House, Metlakatla 


Wharf at Unga 

Gird wood 

Holy Cross 

Fort Yukon 

Iglu on Lower Kuskokwim 

Fish Rack at Unalakleet (Norton 


between 244 and 245 

Winter & Pond Studios, courtesy 
Anthony J. Dimond 

Otto Schallerer, courtesy Cham- 
ber of Commerce 

Pan American Airways 

Pan American Airways 

W. L. High ton 

W. L. Highton 

U . S. Navy, Forest Service 
Geological Survey 

Photoa-aft, courtesy Chamber of 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 

Edward F. Casey 

U. S. Forest Service 

Holy Cross Mission 

U. S. Forest Service 

Department of the Interior 

Department of the Interior 

W. L. Highton 


Russian Blockhouse, Sitka 

Russian Church and Graves, Eklutna 

St. Michael's Cathedral, Sitka 

Aleuts and Haida 

The Haida 

Eskimo Mask, Juneau Museum 

Eskimo Basket, Juneau Museum 

Eagle, West Prince of Wales Island 

Bear, Kasaan National Monument 

Entrance to Sitka National Monument 

Father Duncan's Kitchen, Metlakatla 

between 274 and 275 

Alas\a Steamship Company 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 

Coo/{'s Voyages 

Bureau of American Ethnology 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 

U. S. Forest Service 

U. S. Forest Service 

W. L. Highton 

W. L. Highton 


Aerial View of Palmer 

"Matanuska Valley" by Merlin Pollock 

Pioneer Family 

News Photographers Arrive 

Original Tent Village at Palmer 

between 304 and 305 

Alasf{^a Rural Rehab. Corp. 
Federal Art Project, WPA 
Alasl{a Rural Rehab. Carp 
Alaska Rural Rehab. Corp. 
Alasl^a Rural Rehab. Corp. 



Hauling Tent to Cabin Site 

Arrival of Women and Children 

Splitting Kindling 

Peeling Log Cabin 

A Community Garden 

Harvesting Oats 

Drying Hay 

House and Barn 

Cabin No. 24 

Interior of Cabin No. 31 

Frame Cottage No. 1 13 

Log Cabin No. 202 

Log Cabin No. 10 

Colonist Family in Garden 

Products of Community Garden 

Bed and Quilt Made at Matanuska 

Woolen Garments Made, at Matanuska 


Alaska Berries (coins are half-dollars) 

Alasl{ii Rural Rehab. 

Alasl{a Rural Rehab. 

Alasl{a Rural Rehab. 

Alast^a Rural Rehab. 

Alaska Rural Rehab. 

Alaska Rural Rehab. 

Alaska Rural Rehab. 

Department of the Interior 

Alaska Rural Rehab. Corp. 

Alaska Rural Rehab. 

Alaska Rural Rehab. 

Alaska Rural Rehab. 

Alasl^a Rural Rehab. 

Alaska Rural Rehab. 

Alaska Rural Rehab. Corp. 

Hetvitt Photo, Palmer, courtesy 

Alaska Rural Rehab. Corp. 
Hetvitt Photo, Palmer, courtesy 

Alaska Rural Rehab. Corp. 
Alaska Rural Rehab. Corp. 
University of Alaska 




Eskimo Child 

Tlingit Girl, Federal School at Juneau 

Metlakatlan Wood-Carver 

Chief of the King Islanders 

Eskimo Trader at Nome 

Eskimo Wearing Intestine-Skin Parka 

Eskimo in Kayak 

King Islanders at Nome 

hettveen 334 and 335 

W. L. High ton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 
W. L. Highton 


Large Map of Alaska 

Reverse Side: Transportation Map 

The Great Land 

The Richardson Highway 

The Alaska Railroad 

Mt. McKinley National Park 

Great Circle Map 

Back Pocket 



bettveen 394 and 395 


(A FEW guideposts for travelers. More detailed information on 
many of these topics is given in the body of the book — consult the 




How to Reach Alaska 

Hunting and Fishing 

Living Expenses 

The Long Day and the Long Night 


Movies, Bowling Alleys, Cafes, Taverns 

Museums and Libraries 

National Park and Monuments 

Stores, Trading Posts, Curio Shops 



Territorial Insignia 

Vocabulary of Alaska Terms 


ACCOMMODATIONS. In the larger towns hotels are excellently 
appointed, comfortable, and reasonable in price. Single rooms with- 
out bath range from $i to S2.50 per day, single rooms with bath from 
$2.50 to $6. 

In smaller towns and villages and along the trails hotels are re- 
placed by "roadhouses," with none of the connotations of the term in 
the States. Alaska roadhouses are country lodges, built of logs or sawed 
timbers, usually of two stories. The first story contains the dining and 
living rooms, the second story the bedrooms and baths. The com- 
parative luxury of roadhouses in some remote districts is startling. 
In new or remote settlements a roadhouse is sometimes replaced by a 
bunkhouse, consisting of tiers of bunks wedged on top of one another 
in a tent or cabin. If the settlement is too new or too remote for even 
a bunkhouse, shelter may usually be had in the local jail and food 
secured at the trading post. For women the problem of shelter over- 
night in remote districts may be a delicate one — the hospitality of the 
local schoolteacher sometimes aflfords a solution. 

Remote trails are dotted with shelter cabins containing food and 
firewood. Any traveler may make use of one. He must leave it in 
good order, with firewood and kindling for the next arrival — in the 
winter, the life of the next arrival may depend upon the speed with 
which he can build a fire. It is customary to remain in a shelter cabin 
not longer than three days. 

Restaurants are for the most part simple and utilitarian, with 
one long lunch counter faced by a few tables protected by booths. 
Food is plain, hearty, and far too ample for anyone not doing hard 
physical work. As everybody works in Alaska, no allowance is made 
for delicate or jaded appetites. Occasionally skipping a meal, or re- 
placing a regular meal with fruits, is recommended to the chechakho. 
Few restaurants supply fresh cream for coffee — indeed, indignant 
complaints would arise from outraged sourdoughs if fresh cream 
were substituted for the familiar can of condensed milk on restaurant 
counters. A cup of coflfee costs from ten to fifteen cents, but no 
charge is made for additional cups. 

Tips, save on shipboard, are rarely solicited, and are never given 
except for service performed. 

CLOTHING. The traveler will need no extra clothing in Alaska 
during the summer months. A raincoat and a light sweater will be 


found useful. Voyages "to westward," or long trips into the Interior 
will be more comfortable by the purchase in Alaska of the summer 
uniform of fisherman, miner, prospector, and official — ankle and 
elbowlength cotton underwear, khaki jacket and breeches of green 
forestry cloth, high socks of mixed cotton and wool, leather boots 
or rubber and leather shoepacs (known in the States as Maine hunt- 
ing boots), cotton or light-wool shirts, a broad-brimmed hat, and, 
during the worst of the mosquito season (June-July) a head net and 
a pair of cotton monkeyface gloves. This dress, exceedingly practical 
and comfortable, is worn by men and women alike, and can be pur- 
chased at any store or trading post in Alaska. If shoepacs are worn, 
care should be taken to dry out at night the inner felt, or wool, soles 
placed inside the shoes to absorb moisture. 

In the severe climate of the north and the Interior during winter, 
clothing must give enough warmth without causing the wearer to 
perspire. Profuse sweating or sudden drenching at a low temperature 
on a lonely trail may prove fatal. The winter dress for the severer 
weather in these sections is of wool, but is only slightly heavier than 
in summer. As an overgarment, a fur or woolen parka (pronounced 
par\y) is worn, its hood edged with wolf or wolverene fur — the 
only furs upon which the breath will not condense into frost. Foot- 
gear, usually Native moccasins or the high-topped fur boots called 
mukluks, varies according to the terrain, the state of the weather, and 
the amount of walking done. A complete change of clothing in case 
of sweating or sudden drenching is essential for winter use. 

Travelers in wild country carry bedrolls or sleeping bags, which 
are made in both winter and summer weights. Twin bedrolls are a 
recent inventive triumph, and may be used separately or zipped 


Mail. Domestic rates of postage in the United States apply to 
matter mailed to, from, or within Alaska. A sure way to annoy an 
Alaskan is to send him a letter under a five-cent stamp, as if he lived 
in a foreign country. On parcel-post packages the eighth zone rate 
is charged between any two points in Alaska as well as between points 
in Alaska and continental United States. Special rates and regulations 
apply to the mailing of gold and of furs. 


Mail for Alaska is dispaiclicd from Seattle, and even air mail goes 
up by boat. Experimental air-mail runs from Seattle to Juneau were 
being made during 1938 by the Pacific Alaska Airways. During the 
summer all classes of mail are accepted for all points in Alaska. Dur- 
ing the winter season (October-May) first-class mail is given prefer- 
ence over other classes to points not located on, or adjacent to, rail- 
roads. In winter ordinary first-class mail is often carried by plane, 
reaching its destination more quickly than in summer. 

Telegraph, Telephone, Radio. The crossed flags of the Army 
Signal Corps painted on a metal sign indicate to travelers the nearest 
telegraph office. The Alaska Communications System (the official title 
of this service) accepts commercial messages, with the usual classes of 
service: night and day letters, money orders, etc. The southern termi- 
nus of this system is at Seattle. 

The Navy Department maintains one radio station at Dutch Har- 
bor, Unalaska Island. The Signal Corps offers radio telephone service 
between Seattle and Juneau, with telephone connections throughout 
continental United States. 

The Alaska Railroad operates a telegraph and telephone system 
over the whole length of its main and branch lines. 

It is not as yet possible for widely distant sections of Alaska to 
communicate commercially with one another, or with the States, by 
telephone. Recent successful experiments in radio telephony point to 
a time not far distant when all parts of Alaska will be linked with 
one another and with the States by radio telephone. 

There are no coin boxes on Alaska telephones, and stores and 
hotels usually make no charge for telephone calls within the vi- 

There are four commercial broadcasting stations in Alaska: KGBU 
(900 kilocycles, 500 watts) at Ketchikan; KINY (1310 kilocycles, 100 
watts) at Juneau; KFQD (780 kilocycles, 250 watts) at Anchorage; 
and KFAR (610 kilocycles, 1,000 watts) at Fairbanks; all featuring 
mostly recorded programs. These stations broadcast without charge 
emergency messages telegraphed to them for points not served by 
telegraph. Musical programs are frequently interrupted by such mes- 


HOW TO REACH ALASKA. Three steamship companies provide 
transportation to Alaska from Seattle, and at the height of the summer 
season several boats a week make their departure from this port. 
Two Canadian companies operate steamships from Vancouver. Sail- 
ings are weekly or semiweekly during the winter months. The boats 
are usually crowded, and reservations should be made well in advance. 

The Alaska Steamship Company operates a large fleet of vessels 
(freight and passenger) during the entire year, to southeastern and 
south central Alaska from Seattle. It also furnishes passenger and 
freight service to Bering Sea ports, direct from Seattle, during the 
summer. Irregular service is available between Seward, Alaska, and 
Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak, ports of the Alaska Peninsula, the Aleu- 
tian Islands, and Bristol Bay. 

The Northland Transportation Company offers year-round service 
to southeastern Alaska from Seattle. 

The Alaska Transportation Company operates vessels to south- 
eastern Alaska from Seattle. 

The Canadian Pacific Railway operates steamers with passenger 
and freight service during the entire year to southeastern Alaska from 
Vancouver and Victoria. 

The Canadian National Railway operates steamers in summer 
only to southeastern Alaska from Vancouver and Victoria. The 
Canadian Pacific and Canadian National vessels are the only ones 
that stop at British Columbia ports. 

Occasional planes operate between Seatde, Vancouver, and Juneau 
(consult local airlines). 

A motor road to Alaska — the International Highway — already ex- 
tends as far north as Hazelton, British Columbia, but probably will 
not be completed for some years to come. 


Licenses. General hunting and trapping license for nonresidents 
of Alaska who are citizens of the United States: game animals, $50; 
game birds, $10. Aliens, $100. No additional charge for trophies taken 
out of Alaska. 

A copy of "Regulations Relating to Game, Land Fur Animals 
and Birds in Alaska" may be secured from the Superintendent of 
Documents, Washington, D.C., for 10 cents. (Do not send stamps.) 



(but consult current regulations) 

Game Animals 

Limit per Season 

Open Season 


(dates inclusive) 

Moose, bulls, except year- 


Sept. I to Dec. 31 

lings and calves 


Alaska Peninsula, i 

North of Yukon: no closed 

Elsewhere, 2 

South of Yukon: Aug. 20 
to Dec. 31 

Deer, males, with horns 

East of longitude 


.-Xug. 20 to Nov. 15 

not less than 3 inches 

southeastern Alaska 


above skull 


West of longitude 


Sept. 20 to Sept. 30 

Prince William Sound 

drainage only, except 


kins and Knight islands, i 

Mountain sheep (except 

Kenai Peninsula, i 

Aug. 20 to Dec. 31 

ewes and lambs) 

Elsewhere, 2 

Mountain goat (except kids) 


Aug. 20 to Dec. 31 

Bear (large brown and 

Admiralty Island, i 

Sept. I to June 20 


Elsewhere, 2 

Bear (black and polar) 

No limit 

No closed season 

Game Birds 

Grouse and ptarmigan 

15 grouse and 15 ptarmigan 

Sept. I to Feb. 28 

a day, but not more 


25 in aggregate a day 

No nonresident shall take game animals or black or polar bears for 
sport or for trophies in Alaska unless accompanied by a registered guide. 
(A list of licensed guides may be obtained from the Alaska Game Com- 
mission, Juneau.) 

No nonresident shall pursue or disturb a large brown or grizzly bear 
for the purpose of photographing such animal unless accompanied by a 
registered guide. 

Taking game by shooting from, on, or across any public highway, or 
within 33 feet of the center line of any public highway in the first or third 
judicial divisions, is prohibited. 

No game animal or game bird or fur-bearing animal may be taken at 
any time in Mt. McKinley National Park, Katmai National Monument, 
Glacier Bay National Monument, on Kruzof and the Partofshikof islands, 
and in certain other closed areas. In Alaska bird and wild life refuges, 
wild animals and birds are specially protected. 


Notes Concerning Game Animals. The Alaska large brown bear, 
or Kodiak, is the largest carnivorous animal on earth. This huge beast 
and its close cousin, the grizzly, are represented in Alaska by several 
species. The Alaska black bear is represented by three subspecies, 
with various color phases. The Kenai black bear found on Kenai 
Peninsula is an extremely large, intensely black animal. Skins exceed- 
ing eight feet in length have been taken. The common black bear is 
found throughout the Territory, and many shaded brown and 
cinnamon colored individuals occur among members of a single 
family. The rare blue glacier bear living near the great ice masses 
is considered to be a handsome color phase of the black bear. The 
Polar bear inhabits the Arctic ice pack. 

The Alaska moose is much larger and blacker than the common 
moose — a full-grown bull will stand seven feet high at the shoulders 
and weigh more than three-fourths of a ton. Its wide palmated antlers 
develop spreads of six feet or more and are so heavy that when 
attached to the skull and cape they can hardly be lifted by a man. 

The pure white mountain sheep often makes itself plainly visible 
among the high mountain peaks, but is wary and tests the sportsman's 
skill and stamina. The mountain goat lives among the coastal ranges, 
preferring the saline air there. These white-bearded animals some- 
times exceed three hundred pounds in weight. 

Alaska caribou, the most abundant of game animals in the Terri- 
tory, fall into two rather distinct types: the mountain caribou and the 
barren ground caribou. The first type is represented by two sub- 
varieties: the McGuire caribou, specimens of which have been taken 
weighing as much as seven hundred pounds, and the Osborne caribou, 
living near the Yukon boundary, standing as much as five feet high 
at the shoulders and with rich clove-brown upper parts and silvery 
flanks. The barren ground caribou, related to the reindeer, is smaller 
in size, paler in color, and with lighter antlers. Both sexes of caribou 
have antlers. All caribou are short-sighted and much less wary than 
the moose. 

There are no true American deer in Alaska except the Sitka deer, 
common in the southeastern coast district from the vicinity of Sitka 
southward. It is a variety of the Columbia blacktail, and ordinary 
bucks weigh rather less than one hundred pounds. 

The timber wolf is one of the largest in America, and specimens 
are variously colored, from grizzled white to coal black. They are 


wide-ranging and exceedingly destructive, and the hunter who kills 
one (bounty $20) has done a service to himselt and (jthcr sportsmen. 


No license is required of anglers, and there are no bag limits, 
no size limits, and no closed seasons. The Territory actually pays 
a bounty in certain areas on one variety of trout — the Dolly 
Varden, which eats salmon eggs. Only one regulation need concern 
the angler — the one making it unlawful to take fish for three years 
after liberation of stock; but when 33-inch, 15-pound rainbow trout 
are to be had, no fisherman in his senses would go after mere 

The cutthroat trout and the Dolly Varden trout are by far the 
best known and most numerous of the freshwater fish in the coastal 
streams of southeastern and southern Alaska. The rainbow trout and 
the steelhead, or salmon, trout are plentiful in certain areas. In addi- 
tion to these native species eastern brook trout have been planted in 
lakes and coastal streams separated from the sea by impassable barriers, 
and will one day become important game fish. 

In the streams and lakes of the Interior are numerous lake trout, 
known to reach a length of several feet and a weight of 60 pounds; 
specimens weighing 35 pounds are not uncommon. Grayling, reach- 
ing a length of 20 inches and attaining a weight of four pounds, are 
found in the clear swift streams of the Interior. Salmon eggs are the 
usual bait in fresh water, but other bait, spinners and flies, are often 

Among salt-water game fish are the chinook or king salmon, which 
reaches a maximum weight of nearly 100 pounds, with the average 
about 20 pounds. The silver, or coho, salmon reaches a weight of 
30 pounds, but averages about eight pounds. Both are found in coastal 
salt water from the southeast to the southwest. They are gamy, 
fighting fish and will take spoons, hooks baited with herring, lures 
of various kinds, but not flies. They do not strike at the surface, 
as a rule, but beneath it. White surf fish or viviparous perch, numer- 
ous species of rockfish or rock bass, and rock or kelp cod are a few 
of the better known kinds of other marine game fish. 

Strip fishing for salmon is very popular around Juneau, where an 
annual strip-fishing contest is held each July. The angler casts and 


trolls until the fish are located, usually in 30 to 40 feet of water but 
occasionally in as much as 70 to 80 feet; then the boat is anchored 
and the fishing is conducted entirely by casting a hook baited with 
herring. Entries must be salmon weighing 15 pounds or over. The 
fishing grounds are easily accessible by car and boat from Juneau. 

Most towns have stores well stocked with fishing equipment. Small 
launches may be chartered for fishing from all points along the coast, 
and there are excellent fishing grounds along the Richardson High- 
way and the Alaska Railroad. Airplanes are very popular among 
anglers, since they permit a fishing party to leave town in the early 
morning, enjoy a day fishing in a lake or stream where perhaps no 
white man has ever fished before, and return the same evening. 
Where the fishing grounds are so remote from civilization that there 
is no hunting lodge near by, anglers sit on the pontoons of the plane 
and cast from there. To the pilot, as is fitting, is reserved the right 
to straddle the propeller shaft and to fish from this honorable post. 

Henry O'Malley, former United States commissioner of fisheries, 
has written a lively and informative pamphlet, "Sport Fishing in 
Alaska," which may be secured by sending 5 cents (do not send 
stamps) to the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C. 
Ask for Fishery Circular No. 13, issued January 1933, Bureau of 

LIVING EXPENSES. Living expenses for travelers, exclusive of 
transportation, range from $6 to $15 a day. In general, food is high, 
rooms are reasonable, and travel is expensive. Prices mount in direct 
ratio to the distance from the main-traveled routes; thus the same 
meal cooked from the same ingredients, identically served, may vary 
in price from 75 cents to $1.50, depending upon distance and the 
difficulty of transporting food and fuel. Food is charged for by the 
meal in many roadhouses, regardless of the amount ordered. 

A saving in money as well as time may sometimes be made by 
air travel. Thus a trip requiring two weeks to make by water in 
summer or dog team in winter may frequently be made at no 
greater cost in four or five hours by plane. 

Travel agencies offer a variety of all-expense tours, which afford 
considerable saving, although they somewhat limit the traveler's inde- 
pendence of movement. A typical round trip from Seattle to the 


Interior, taking about 19 days, costs about $250 for transportation 
and meals. 

An income of $2500 in Alaska is roughly equivalent in buying 
power to $1500 in the States. Wages in Alaska are correspondingly 

written about the long day and the long night of the Arctic that this 
phenomenon is often thought of as extending even to such localities 
as Juneau, 600 miles south of the Arctic Circle, In southeastern Alaska 
the days are long in summer and short in winter — as they are in 
Stockholm, Boston, and Chicago. This phenomenon grows increas- 
ingly apparent as one journeys northward, until at Fairbanks and 
Nome midsummer nights are almost entirely light, and midwinter 
days are almost entirely dark. At Point Barrow this condition is even 
more apparent. 

Even in the north, midsummer nights are dusky rather than 
brightly alight, and midwinter days are gloomy but never pitch dark. 
In the vicinity of Fairbanks in midsummer the sun, like Charles II, 
takes an unconscionable time in dying, the sunset remaining brilliant 
until ten or eleven o'clock at night, and dawn breaks rather un- 
expectedly at two A.M., or earlier. At Fairbanks a midnight ball game 
is played every 21st of June, but in order to view the midnight sun 
it is necessary to travel north of Fairbanks 120 miles to the Arctic 
Circle. The midnight sun is best seen from a plane, as the mountain 
ranges north of Fairbanks tend to obscure it. The long midsummer 
day is rather wearing on Alaskan nerves, however, and after summer- 
long, midnight berry-picking or swimming excursions, most residents 
of northern Alaska are glad to see the days shortening again. 

The long night is not so black as it has been painted, for what 
with the snow on the ground, and the moon and the northern lights 
in the sky, winter nights are often almost as bright as summer ones. 
This was strikingly illustrated during the search for the lost Russian 
flyers in the Arctic in 1937. Almost constant fog conditions prevented 
any thorough search for the flyers during the summer, even with so 
many available hours of daylight. In the fall, however, in spite of 
there being almost no daylight, the moon and the snow provided 
sufficient light in an atmosphere clear of fog to make a thorough 
search possible. 


MONEY. The 5-cent piece is the lowest monetary unit in Alaska; 
in the remote interior, the 25<ent piece (two bits). In the latter 
case, this does not mean that the lowest price of any article is 25 cents, 
but merely that a total purchase must amount to a multiple of 25 
cents. Pennies are almost unknown, and in post offices the clerk will 
usually make change in one-cent stamps. Prices such as 39 cents and 
$1.98 are unheard of. Changing a large bill often results, as else- 
where in the West, in a pocketful of silver dollars. With the passing 
of individual placer mining and the miner's poke, gold dust as a 
medium of exchange has almost vanished. Travelers' or express 
checks are accepted everywhere without question. 


in remote districts the profile of Myrna Loy is familiar to every 
Native. In ports closed to navigation during the winter months, cans 
of film are stocked to last through the winter, and residents of these 
settlements by strolling through the trading-post warehouse and 
reading the labels on the cans may know in September what films 
they are to see in March. The show runs for two hours or 
less, consisting usually of a feature film and newsreel or cartoon. 
Once a week the proceedings are enlivened by "bank night," on which 
everybody in the audience hopes he will win from fifty to two 
hundred and fifty heavy silver dollars. Except in the larger towns, the 
theater seats are rows of hard benches, and as with other commodi- 
ties in Alaska, the price of entertainment increases with the distance 
from means of transportation. When a Native goes to the movies 
he takes his entire family, including the baby born last week. 

Men, women, and children are passionately fond of bowling, 
and many larger towns have excellently equipped-and-maintained 
bowling alleys. Pool competes with bowling, and many women in 
remote settlements are excellent pool players. Gambling machines, 
disguised as games of skill, are found in stores, bar rooms, trading 
posts, bowling alleys, hotel lobbies, restaurants, and pool rooms — 
almost everywhere except in churches and jails. 

The sign cafe usually indicates a restaurant, where alcoholic Hquors 
may or may not be served. Even in the taverns, however, liquor regu- 
lations prohibit any beverage stronger than beer or wine. Cocktails 
are occasionally served — horrible concoctions of sherry, claret, bor- 
deaux, port, a twisted orange peel, and a dash of bitters. Patrons of 


bars sometimes attempt to violate the law by demanding a drink of 
"Ar'tic wine" — Alaskan for straight whiskey. Since only light bever- 
ages are served in restaurants and bars, "package stores" are on every 
street corner. (But consult current liquor laws.) 

The ladies known as "Lou" — and by other names — still flourish 
in the larger towns. But the original Lou is now well past middle 
age. Assuming she was i8 years old when she took part in the 
Klondike gold rush, Lou was 21 during the rush at Nome, 23 in 
Fairbanks, 29 at Ruby, and 35 when gold was struck at Tolovana. In 
1938 she celebrated her 59th birthday, and time is forcing respect- 
ability upon her. The gilt is gone from the gingerbread, and the 
glamour of "Lou" and her sisters has departed — if indeed it was ever 

MUSEUMS AND LIBRARIES. The Alaska Historical Library and 
Museum, on the second floor of the Territorial Building in Juneau, 
contains relics from the days of the Russian occupation, other his- 
torical relics, and a remarkable collection of aboriginal weapons, 
utensils, implements, and artifacts. The Library consists of books 
relating to Alaska, many of them exceedingly rare. The Museum was 
created by act of Congress, June 6, 1900, and is supported from the 
fees paid by lawyers admitted to the bar and by notaries public. The 
librarian and curator is the Rev. A. P. KashevarofT. (Open free, 
Mon. — Fri. 9-5; Sat. 9-1; occasionally at odd hours coinciding with 
the arrival of northbound passenger vessels.) 

The Sheldon Jackson Museum at the Sheldon Jackson School in 
Sitka has a splendid collection of historical relics of the Russian 
occupation, most of them found in or about this early capital. It also 
contains a large collection of aboriginal artifacts, including many 
Eskimo-made, secured by Dr. Sheldon Jackson in his travels through- 
out the west and the Interior. (Open daily during school hours; adm. 
25 cents.) 

The University of Alaska at College maintains a museum which 
displays paleontological and mineral specimens, as well as Native craft- 
work, and a library. (Open free, daily during school hours.) 

Most towns have jHiblic libraries, consisting mainly of fiction, 
periodicals, and newspapers; but no really inclusive collection of books 
relating to Alaska is available in any public library. As few Alaskans 


have leisure to read during the day, the pubUc hbraries are usually 
open only during certain week-day evenings and Saturday afternoon. 
The most extensive collection of books, documents, and manu- 
scripts relating to Alaska in the United States (not open to the public) 
is the private library of the Hon. James Wickersham of Juneau, author 
of the standard bibliography of literature relating to Alaska. He has 
been identified with the country for almost forty years. 

tional park and four national monuments. Two of the latter are 
inaccessible by scheduled routes. 

Mt. McKinley National Park (season June lo to Sept. 15) is on 
the Alaska Railroad (Mt. McKinley Park Station), 348 miles from 
Seward and 123 miles from Fairbanks. In area 3,030 square miles, it 
contains the highest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley, 
20,300 feet. The park is divided by the Alaska Range. The eastern 
portion is made up of rolling hills and grassy valleys which afford 
pasture for immense herds of caribou. The western portion contains 
many high mountains and glaciers. Within the park boundaries are 
found grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes, moose, caribou, sheep, and fox 
in great numbers, as well as many smaller animals. There are 80 
miles of graveled automobile road within the park. 

Kasaan National Monument, reached by launch from Ketchikan, 
covers twenty-eight acres on the east side of Prince of Wales Island. 
It contains the ruins of the former Haida Indian village known as 
Old Kasaan — totem poles, grave houses, monuments, and portions 
of the original framework of buildings. 

Sitka National Monument, a reservation of historical interest 
and great natural beauty, contains a remarkable collection of totem 
poles. It is within walking distance of the town of Sitka, in south- 
eastern Alaska, a port of call for steamships from Seattle. 

Glacier Bay National Monument is situated in southeastern 
Alaska near Juneau. In 1938 no regular steamship schedule included 
a visit to it. It could be visited only by chartering a launch or plane. 
Advantage may sometimes be taken of launch or plane trips to pros- 
pectors' camps in the area to see a portion of this region at low cost. 

Katmai National Monument, on Shelikof Strait near the base of 
the Alaska Peninsula, in southwestern Alaska, contains the Valley 


of Ten Thousand Smokes and other remarkable volcanic phenomena. 
It is rarely visited by steamers, contains no roadhouses or trading 
posts, and is inaccessible to the average traveler. 

by reason of their comparative isolation, maintain large general stocks. 
The quality of merchandise is, on the whole, superior. The Alaskan 
is aware that transportation costs bring the price of a cheaply made 
article into the price-range of a better made one, and consequendy 
exacts and receives the best for his money. Miners, fishermen, and 
others living in isolated districts buy almost entirely by brand name, 
and will not take chances with unfamiliar brands or products of un- 
known quality. Although the Alaskan frequendy buys from mail- 
order houses, he prefers to see the article he is buying, and makes his 
purchases only from stores whose reputation he knows from personal 
experience. Because of the seasonal nature of employment, a great 
deal of business is done on credit — many Alaskans habitually purchase 
their winter "grubstake" this way, paying for it during the summer. 

In isolated communities the trading post is to the community what 
the general store was to rural America. The trading posts are usually 
retail outlets of large trading companies such as the Northern Com- 
mercial Company and the Pacific Commercial Company. At many 
trading posts it is possible to purchase fine examples of Native craft — 
baskets, moccasins, mukluks, parkas, etc. In isolated communities the 
trading post sometimes operates a roadhouse and restaurant, contains 
the post office, and is the community center where residents gather 
for social intercourse and to exchange news. 

Port towns and towns along the Alaska Railroad have excellent 
curio shops, most of them honestly operated by persons long familiar 
with Native arts and crafts who will not misrepresent their goods to 
tourists. On account of the high living costs in Alaska, Native-made 
curios are not cheap, and the tourist demand for cheap curios has 
resulted in heavy importation of Japanese-made ivory carvings and 
totem poles. The honest curio dealer, if he is forced by the demand 
to display Japanese-made curios, keeps them in separate cases, plainly 
labeled. The fining of a dealer who sold Japanese articles as "Native- 
made," defending his action on the ground that the Japanese are also 
natives — of Japan— had a salutary elTect on other curio dealers. If 
before making any purchase of curios the traveler will spend a few 


hours examining examples of the Native arts in Chief Shakes' Com- 
munity House at Wrangell, the Territorial Museum at Juneau, or the 
Sheldon Jackson Museum at Sitka, he will quickly learn to recognize 
worthy specimens of Native art in the shops. Some of the larger 
curio shops have for sale pieces which should be in museums, and 
which when sold cannot be replaced. The visitor might well purchase 
an example of Haida carving, a Haida or Tlingit carved totem or 
witch-doctor's rattle, a Chilkat dancing shawl or blanket, an Aleut 
basket, a piece of Eskimo-carved ivory, an Eskimo whalebone basket 
from Point Barrow, and perhaps a pair of hair-seal moccasins. Parkas 
and other articles of fur should be purchased only from established 
dealers, as purchasers otherwise run the risk of buying badly tanned 
furs or fur that is not prime. Recently a legal trade mark has been 
authorized and adopted for all Native made articles. 

TIME. For practical purposes, the traveler need only remember that 
he should set his watch back one hour at Ketchikan, another hour 
at Seward, and another hour at Nome, or set it forward at the same 
rate when traveling in the opposite direction. 

The time belts in Alaska have no identifying names, but are 
indicated by degrees of longitude. Fifteen degrees of longitude are 
equivalent to one hour of time. Thus 9 a.m. at Seattle (120°) is 8 a.m. 
at Ketchikan and Juneau (135°), 7 a.m. at Cordova, Valdez, Seward, 
and Fairbanks (150°), and 6 a.m. at Nome (165°). Hence such nota- 
tions on time tables, as Lv. Seattle Tiies. 9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, 
Ar. Juneau Fri. 9 /J5°. 

The i8oth meridian lies between the Andreanof and the Rat 
islands, among the Aleutian group. This is the meridian farthest west 
of Greenwich (180°), and strictly should be the point where Sunday 
becomes Saturday. As a matter of convenience, the international 
date line jogs west to take in the westernmost American possession, 
Attu Island, and east to include Siberia and the Big Diomede. 


Railroads. The Alaska Railroad from Seward to Fairbanks, com- 
pleted July 15, 1923, was built by the government at a cost of ap- 
proximately $52,000,000. It operates the year round. From Seward 


it skirts Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm to Anchorage, and thence 
foUows the valley of the Matanuska, the Susitna, the Nenana, and the 
Tanana rivers to Fairbanks. A branch line from Matanuska to 
Premier, Eska, and Jonesville, beyond Palmer, taps the Matanuska 
coal fields. Passenger fare is six cents a mile. A parlor car is carried 
on certain trains, but there are no diners or sleepers. Stops are made 
at stations for meals, and an overnight stop is made at Curry. The 
Alaska Railroad and two hotels are operated by the Department 
of the Interior. The journey of 470.5 miles from Seward to Fair- 
banks takes two days. Eighty-five and three-tenths miles of branch 
line are also in operation. 

The Copper River and Northwestern Railroad suspended opera- 
tion in 1938. 

The White Pass and Yukon Railway runs through American 
territory from Skagway to the summit of White Pass, 20 miles distant, 
and continues thence through Canadian territory to Whitehorse, no 
miles from Skagway, head of navigation on the Yukon and a stop 
on the air route from Juneau to Fairbanks. 

Airways. Many commercial companies operate small planes in 
Alaska. The Pacific Alaska Airways operates larger airliners that 
maintain a regular summer schedule between Juneau and Fairbanks 
via Whitehorse, Yukon Territory; and between Fairbanks and Nome 
via Ruby (subject to change; consult local travel agency). In winter 
its schedule is usually more extensive. Pacific Alaska airliners are 
equipped with radio and maintain communication with ground sta- 
tions at all times. 

The most isolated communities are served by smaller planes the 
year round, and many settlements of less than a hundred inhabitants 
have an average of a plane arrival a day. Some idea of the saving 
in time aviation affords in Alaska may be had from the fact that 
one may travel from Juneau to Fairbanks by plane approximately 
twenty times faster than by water. The roundabout voyage from 
Seward to Dillingham takes fifteen days by boat but only about 
eight hours direct by air, and the fare is approximately the same. 
The little town of Wiseman, well within the Arctic Circle, is 1300 
miles from Fairbanks by water, but only 180 miles by air. To mush 
between these two points by winter dog team takes approximately 
two weeks, and the dried salmon for the dogs costs more than the 


plane fare for the trip, which takes approximately an hour and 
three-quarters. Casual labor in canneries and mines is frequently trans- 
ported by plane, and Alaskans have been known to use a plane on 
the identical errand for which the resident of a small town starts 
up his flivver — to run over to the nearest store for a loaf of bread. 

Approximately lOO landing fields — public and private — are main- 
tained in Alaska. In addition, Alaska pilots — some of them the best 
in the United States — frequently land on river sandbars and grassy 
clearings, or on a small open stretch of water, during the summer, 
and a frozen lake or river or a patch of crusted snow, during the 
winter. At Valdez (a town built on the moraine of a receding 
glacier) pilots sometimes use skis in summer, taking off on the mud 
flats below the town and landing on the ice of the glacier above. 
The inaccessibility of many communities in Alaska makes freighting 
by plane a common practice. In addition, pilots render emergency 
service in transporting persons to hospitals. 

Flying costs run from Si8 an hour minimum for the smallest 
planes, on scheduled trips when the pilot has a capacity load, to $50 
an hour for a chartered plane on unscheduled trips. Most airlines offer 
a ten percent rebate on round trips. Special tourist and scenic flights 
are offered at special rates. (Tell the manager of your hotel the nature 
of the trip you are planning, and several airline agents will knock 
at your door within an hour.) 

Lunches aloft are not provided as in the United States, except by 
the Pacific Alaska Airways. Very little night flying is done. 

Automobile Highways. The Richardson Highway (open in sum- 
mer only), 371 miles long, begins at the port of Valdez, on Prince 
William Sound, and ends at Fairbanks, paralleling the Alaska Rail- 
road. Frequent bus and truck service connect with steamship arrivals; 
good accommodations are available along the route. 

The Steese Highway (open in summer only) extends 163 miles 
from Fairbanks to Circle. Bus and truck service connect with train 
arrivals; there are accommodations along the route. 

Other major summer highways, all with bus or truck service, are: 

Gulkana to Slate Creek, 60 miles 

Anchorage to Palmer and Matanuska Valley, 50 miles 

Fairbanks to Livengood, 85 miles 

Nome to Council, 57 miles 


Local highways with bus, truck, or taxi service are: 

Juneau to Eagle River (Glacier Highway), 39 miles 

including branch roads 
Ketchikan (Tongass Highway), 24 miles 
WrangcU (Wrangell Highway), 7 miles 
Sitka (Sitka Highway), 5 miles 
Cordova (Eyak Highway), 7 miles 
Seward (Kenai Lake Highway), 38 miles 
Mt. McKinley National Park Road, 80 miles 

Dog Teams. When automobile roads are snowed over and ports 
on the Bering Sea are icebound the dog team remains a vitally neces- 
sary means of transporting mail, supplies, and passengers. A sled dog 
weighs from sixty to eighty pounds, can pull at least twice his own 
weight under normal conditions for from twenty to thirty miles a 
day, and lives on two pounds of dried fish a day. With four to eight 
other huskies, he pulls a sled from six to twenty-two feet long, 
mounted on runners about twenty inches apart. 

Dog teams are still used extensively in the west, the Interior, 
and the north during the winter to transport mail, passengers, and 
supphes. A combination of plane and dog-team travel is much used 
by district nurses, government officials, and others having to make 
regular rounds to remote districts in all weather. Dog teams are in 
very little use in the south or the southeast. 

Waterways. Yukon River. The White Pass and Yukon Railway 
operates in summer river steamers between Whitehorse and Nenana, 
a Tanana River port on the Alaska Railroad. During the open 
season the Alaska Railroad also operates river steamers between 
Nenana, on the Alaska Railroad, and Marshall, near the mouth of 
the Yukon. Launches run between Marshall and St. Michael, where 
occasional connections are made with steamers to Nome and Seattle. 

Southeastern Alaska. Local steamers and motor boats operate be- 
tween the following points the year round: 

Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Hyder, and other local points 
Wrangell to Prince of Wales Island and other near-by points 
Petersburg to the south end of Baranof Island 
luncau and Sitka 
luneau and Skagway 


Southern Alaska. Local steamers operate the year round between 
the following points: 

Valdez, Cordova, points on Prince William Sound (year round; 

Anchorage to various local points on Cook Inlet (summer only; 


Southwestern Alaska. It is expected that in 1939, or soon thereafter, 
a regular passenger and freight steamer will be operated once a month 
from Seward to the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak, points on the Alaska 
Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands, and Bristol Bay (Bristol Bay points 
May-October only). 

Boats operate out of Bethel up the Kuskokwim River during the 

Freight vessels plying between Seward, Kodiak, and points on the 
Aleutian Islands offer limited passenger service. 

TERRITORIAL INSIGNIA. Alaska's flag consists of the Big Dipper 
and the Pole Star in gold on a field of blue, with a band of gold on 
three sides, and was designed by thirteen-year-old Benny Benson of 
Seward in 1926. In 1929 the Territorial Legislature appropriated 
$1,000 for Benny's education at the University of Alaska. The floral 
emblem of the Territory is the forget-me-not. The Pioneers of Alaska 
have adopted as their official song Alaska, My Alasl{a, composed by 
M. A. Snow of the class of 1903 of the Juneau High School, sung 
to the tune of Maryland, My Maryland. 

VOCABULARY OF ALASKA TERMS. The old trading jargon of 
Chinook is dying a lingering death along the northwest coast of 
America, not without having enriched the "American" language with 
a few permanent contributions and a number of colorful localisms. 
The jargon arose out of the slaving activities of the powerful Chinook 
tribe of Columbia River, who did a brisk business in slaves with the 
Nootkas, members of a wealthy tribe which enjoyed a virtual 
monopoly of the shells from which the shell money of the Pacific 
Coast was manufactured. The jargon was originally an approxima- 
tion of the Chinook language to the language of the Nootkas, but 
later it adopted many words from English and French. A knowledge 
of this jargon was indispensable to white traders, who used it ex- 


tensively in Alaska from 1840 to 1890. At its height the jargon was 
the main method of communication for fully 100,000 people. 

Although Chinook jargon had a- vocabulary of over 500 words, 
this trading language had no formal grammar, it varied from place 
to place, and adopted and discarded words with the freedom of a 
gutter argot. From the English it borrowed such words as house, sticJ{, 
and boat, and such onomatopoetic expressions as piu piu (stink) and 
hee hee (laugh). Many English words would not carry over into 
Chinook because the Indians were unable to pronounce certain letters 
— thus fish became pish and carbine calipeen. Examples of borrowing 
from French are siwash (sauvage) and mush (marche). Because of 
lack of grammatical structure, new ideas were expressed through 
compounds: thus a place of amusement became hee hee house, the 
United States Boston illahie (from Boston, American, and illahie, 
ground or earth). 

Some of the Chinook expressions still used in everyday speech, 
together with other terms current in Alaska, are given below. Origin 
of the words is indicated thus: C. (Chinook), E. (Eskimauan), A. 
(terms brought by Americans). 

bulldozer n. {A.) a caterpillar tractor equipped for stripping 

cat n. {A.) caterpillar tractor 

chechakho n. (C.) "just arrived," hence, tenderfoot 
chuc\ n. (C.) water, stream 
clean-up n. {A.) reckoning up the "take" at the end of a season, 

hence the "take" 
flour n. {A.) fine gold 
gurry n. {A.) the oflfal from a fish cannery 
hi yu n. (C) plenty 
hootchenoo n. (C.) home-distilled spirits (the origin of the slang 

term, "hootch") 
hus}{y n. {A.) sled dog 

iglu n. (E.) sod house, any Eskimo dwelling 
iron chinl{ n. {A.) an automatic device for splitting and cleaning 

fish in a cannery, replacing the former "China gang" 
}{ayal{ n. (E.) single-passenger skin boat 
malemute n. (E.) sled dog 
mucf{amuc\ n. (C.) food 
mu}{lu\ n. (E.) fur boot 


mush V. (C.) get on! command to a dog team. Also to walk rather 

than to ride 
outside adv. n. {A.) anywhere except Alaska, usually the States 
parJ^a n. (E.) (pronounced "parky") overgarment of skm, fur, or 

pol^e n. (A.) a moosehide bag for gold dust, hence one's "roll" 

or wealth 
siwash n. (C.) Indian (contemptuous) 
siwash V. (C.) to sleep out without shelter 
sf{oof{^um adj. (C.) strong, worthy, as a "skookum hunter" 
s1{Oo\um-house n. (C.) jail 

sourdough n. {A.) bread made without yeast, hence, old-timer 
tillicum n. (C.) friend 

tundra n. (A.) swampy, grassy plains of treeless regions 
umia}{ n. (E.) large skin boat 
umu\ n. (E.) the "woman-knife" used for flensing skins 

(Other technical terms are explained as they occur.) 


r- LopiMTo 


"The farther north you go the colder it gets." 

The Arctic region is warmed by heat from the ocean radiated 
through floating ice. Thousands of square miles of Alaska lowland 
are colder than Point Barrow. 

"Alas\a is a frigid land of ice and snow." 

This idea is on a par with the belief of early geographers that 
oceans boiled and rocks were red hot south of the temperate zone. 
At Fairbanks, some 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle, it is some- 
times 100° in the shade. The average snowfall in Arctic lowlands 
is less than the average in Virginia. Luxuriant vegetation and mild- 
ness of climate have caused several regions of Alaska to be facetiously 
referred to as the "banana belt." 

"EsJ{imos live in ice houses." 

The word iglu means building, and refers in Alaska to a house 
of earth and wood. Snow houses are occasionally built for emergency 
use on the trail, but are never used as permanent dwellings. 



"Alas /{a is remote from civilization." 

Alaska's front door opens on the Polar Sea, and its neighbors on 
this modern Mediterranean are Canada, the USSR, Norway, Iceland, 
and Greenland. Alaska is about i8 hours' direct flying time from 
Yokohama or New York. Central Europe lies about a day and a half 
away via Yakutsk, Omsk, and Moscow. 

"Alaska's many glaciers indicate a cold climate." 

Glaciers can form only in relatively warm climates with high 
mountains and heavy precipitation. Glaciers are found only in Alaska's 
warmer areas (southeast, south central, southwest). 

"There nothing green doth grow." 

Alaska contains about 385,000 square miles of well-developed forest, 
about 65,000 square miles of land suited to agriculture, and about 
35,000 square miles of grazing land. Cabbages, potatoes, and other 
hardy vegetables flourish far north of the Arctic Circle. Roses, lilacs, 
peonies, lilies, honeysuckles, and many varieties of bushes and berries 
grow profusely. Delphiniums bloom recklessly, growing eight or nine 
feet high. 

"There is continuous darkness for three or four months in the Arctic." 
The Arctic is never in total darkness, because of the refraction of 
light from below the horizon and the bright moonlight on the snow. 
The number of hours yearly during which print can be read out of 
doors is as great in the Arctic as in the tropics. 

"Gold mining is the principal industry of Alaska." 

Fishing is the most important industry, exceeding in annual value 
of product both mining and fur-taking. Unlike the extraction of 
minerals, with proper care fishing can remain at the present high 
level of income forever. 

"The Klondi/{e is in Alas /{a." 

The Klondike gold-mining area is in Yukon Territory, Canada. 
Many Americans took part in the Klondike gold rush, but they had 
to cross into Canada first. The "Yukon Trail" of 1898 led through 


"Alaska is in the hands of private corporate owners." 

Over 98 percent of Alaska is owned by the Federal government. 

"The purchase of Alaska was not economically justifiable." 

Since its purchase the returns on the original investment have 
been about 2,430 percent. 

"Alaska took ^^ P^''^ ^^ ^^^^ Civil War." 

The last shots of the Civil War were fired by the Confederate 
cruiser Shenandoah at Union whalers in Alaska waters. 


ALASKA has an area of about 586,000 square miles, and its coast- 
line of 26,000 miles is longer than the coast of continental United 
States. If it were superimposed upon the United States, Attu Island, 
the last of the American Aleutians, would touch California at Los 
Angeles, and the southeastern strip of Alaska would end at Savannah, 
Georgia. Point Barrow, Alaska's northernmost point, would be near 
Duluth, Minnesota. The Territory is equivalent in area to about a fifth 
that of continental United States. 

Alaska may be divided into six principal regions, each with dis- 
tinct physical characteristics and different types of resources in various 
stages of development, 

I. Southeastern Alaska. Alaska's "panhandle" comprises the 
narrow strip of mainland and adjacent chain of islands extending 
southeasterly from the main body of the Territory along the west 
side of British Columbia for approximately 400 miles to 54° 40'. It is 
a region of high, rugged, forested mountains rising sharply from the 
water's edge and dissected by an intricate network of narrow water- 
ways. The coast range, rising in places to elevations of 9,000 feet or 



more, presents almost insuperable barriers to cross-country travel, 
especially as the range is cut by many deep fiords with precipitous 
walls rising thousands of feet from the water's edge. These fiords 
and deep marine watercourses have produced hundreds of islands 
off the mainland, so that transportation between them or with the 
mainland can be effected only by boat or plane. This region is the 
section of Alaska most accessible to continental United States, and is 
ordinarily reached by steamer travel through the Inside Passage from 

Southeastern Alaska is the most highly developed part of the 
Territory, containing one-third of the total population and the greatest 
amount of industry. Five substantial towns, affording most of the 
social facilities deemed essential to a satisfactory modern scale of 
living, are located there. The local economy is based on fish, minerals, 
timber, recreation, and various minor resources. The salmon and 
halibut fisheries are very highly developed and employ the greater 
part of the workers, both white and Native. Hard rock or lode min- 
ing, principally for gold, is second in economic importance. The 
great bulk of the commercial forest resources of the Territory is found 
in southeastern Alaska. While these now supply only the local de- 
mand for timber products, they should eventually contribute sub- 
stantially to regional prosperity as raw material for a large local pulp 
and paper manufacturing industry. Juneau, the capital of the Terri- 
tory, and Ketchikan, its largest fishing center, are located in this 

The climate is mild and equable, with warm winters, cool sum- 
mers, and a heavy precipitation. The average January temperature 
compares with that of central Maryland, southern Illinois, and 
southern Kansas. The lowest temperature of record at Sitka, -5°, 
compares favorably with the low record at Meridian, Mississippi, of 
-6°, and Tallahassee, Florida, of -2°. In some sections of this 
region the average annual precipitation is more than 150 inches, 
considerably greater than elsewhere in the United States. The length 
of the growing season is about 160 days. 

To the tourist, southeastern Alaska is one of the scenic wonders 
of the world, with its mountains, glaciers, streams, and fiords, with 
Glacier Bay, Kasaan, and Sitka National monuments, and Tongass 
National Forest. To the Alaskan it is the center of civilization, where 
prices are low, supplies are plentiful, and where girls — young, beauti- 


ful, white, and unattached — may be actually seen on the streets, wear- 
ing the latest creations from Hollywood. Here on the islands or along 
the broken coastline bordered by mountains live the Tlingit, Tsim- 
shian, and Haida Indians. 

2. SouTHCENTRAL Alaska. This region includes the Prince William 
Sound and Cook Inlet sections of the southern coast and the adjacent 
large watersheds that extend inland to the crest of the Alaska Range 
in central Alaska. The coastal portion of the region somewhat re- 
sembles southeastern Alaska in physiography, climate, and vegeta- 
tion, and similarly fishing is its chief means of community support. 
The Chugach National Forest borders Prince William Sound. 

Everywhere north of this southern coastal portion the Alaska 
Range forms a gigantic backbone, in places 150 miles wide. Many of 
the peaks of these mountains rise to elevations of more than 10,000 
feet and several of them are more than 15,000 feet high. The cul- 
minating point, Mt. McKinley, in Mt. McKinley National Park, is 
over 20,000 feet. A few of the lower passes across these highlands have 
been utilized by roads or railroads, but for hundreds of miles there 
are no feasible routes across this mountain belt that are suitable 
even for pack-horse trails. Snow storms are likely to occur in the 
higher parts of the ranges at all times of the year, and bad weather 
conditions are the rule in the mountains. 

A number of large rivers, as well as Cook Inlet, break through 
the mountains fronting the coast and open up inland valleys having 
a light forest cover, moderate precipitation, short but rather warm 
summers, and winter temperatures not unlike those found in the 
northern tier of prairie States. The level and rolling lands afford ex- 
cellent opportunities for agriculture. The Matanuska agricultural 
area is located in one of these valleys in the vicinity of Anchorage. 
Additional and even more extensive tracts of potential farm lands, 
notably the Kenai Peninsula agricultural area, are found in this same 
general locality. 

Mining is the most important source of livelihood in the inland 
region. The large Kennecott Copper mines (closed in 1938) were 
located on Copper River. Lode and placer gold operations are con- 
ducted at various places. The large bituminous coal deposits of the 
Bering River and the Matanuska River valleys are undeveloped, 
with the exception of some enterprises in the Matanuska field which 


supply the needs of the near-by Alaska Railroad belt. The game re- 
sources here, as in other parts of Alaska, attract many sportsmen 
from all parts of the world and afTord considerable local revenue. 

Two important routes into the Interior begin at the southern 
coast — the Richardson Highway leads inland from Valdez, and the 
Federally owned and operated Alaska Railroad, from tidewater at 
Seward to Fairbanks. A steamship line operating on regular schedule 
out of Seattle by way of southeastern Alaska serves these two ports. 
These transportation systems provide considerable direct employ- 
ment for local residents. 

The population is largely centered around five towns and several 
large mines. In south central Alaska live branches of the Athapascan 
Indians, in some areas mixed with an Eskimauan intrusion. 

3. Southwestern Alaska and Bristol Bay. This region includes 
the Alaska Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands, and the Bristol Bay area, 
and contains the Katmai National Monument, in which is the Valley 
of Ten Thousand Smokes. It has rugged topography, and its climate 
is wet, with foggy summers and disagreeable winters. Most of this 
country is treeless, lying entirely outside the forest zone, and the 
vegetation is a heavy growth of grass interspersed with patches of 
brush. The small population is largely Native — Aleuts and Eskimos. 
Kodiak and Unalaska, both small towns, are the only permanent 
white settlements of importance in the Aleutian region. Cattle and 
sheep grazing is being carried on in a somewhat experimental manner 
on a few islands, and there is some fur farming. The Pribilof Islands, 
located in the vicinity, are the principal breeding grounds of the fur 
seal in the Pacific waters. The seal herds are given special protection 
by the United States government. The pelting and sale are govern- 
ment monopolies, and the proceeds are divided among Great Britain, 
Japan, and the United States. 

Dillingham is the principal center of the Bristol Bay area. The 
fisheries resources of Bristol Bay are highly important and contribute 
a large portion of the Alaska salmon pack. The fishing industry, to- 
gether with fur trapping, furnishes the principal source of livelihood 
to the Native population. Practically all of the white fishery employees 
are brought from and returned to the Pacific Coast States each work- 
ing season. 

In the area south of the Aleutians is a trough of low pressure 


with a west-east trend, commonly known as the "Aleutian low." 
Through this pressure-valley pass a great many of the cyclonic dis- 
turbances of the northern hemisphere in their west-to-east movement. 
Altogether it exerts a great influence on the weather of the Territory, 
the Canadian Provinces, and the northern half of the United States. 

Commercial transportation over large portions of this region either 
does not exist or is available only in certain seasons and at long 

4. Interior Alaska. Forming the great central part of Alaska 
from the northern border of the Alaska Range to the southern border 
of the Brooks Range, there is a relatively low rolling country traversed 
by large rivers, such as the Yukon and Kuskokwim and their tribu- 
taries. In places this belt is more than 300 miles wide from north 
to south and i,ooo miles from east to west. The uplands in this area 
seldom rise to elevations of 600 feet, and the greater part of the 
country has an average of perhaps 300 feet or less. The climate is 
characteristically continental in type, having short, warm summers 
and long, cold winters. Precipitation is small, probably being less 
than fifteen inches a year throughout most of this area. A peculiar 
surface condition prevails throughout much of the Interior in that 
in many places the subsoil to a depth of several hundred feet is 
permanently frozen. 

White occupation is largely confined to the middle of the Yukon 
River drainage area and has its greatest concentration in the general 
vicinity of Fairbanks on the Tanana River, a large tributary of the 
Yukon. The lower Yukon and lower Kuskokwim River areas consist 
of extensive swamps and flatlands occupied almost exclusively by 
Natives (Athapascans in the former and Eskimos in the latter) living 
under primitive conditions. The lower river valleys are remote, with 
very limited transportation facilities and little contact with white 
civilization. The introduction of reindeer to Alaska from Siberia sub- 
sequent to 1890 has materially improved the economic condition of 
the inhabitants of the Yukon-Kuskokwim lowlands. 

Since the days of the gold rushes in the early years of the twentieth 
century, mining, and more particularly placer gold mining, has been 
the principal industry in the region. For a long period simple types 
of operations under which men largely worked their own claims were 
the rule. While this practice continues to a limited extent, most of 


the placer gold now mined is the product of large-scale corporate 
enterprise and rather complex processes involving considerable capital 
investments. The mining of platinum has recently assumed some 
prominence. Coal is produced in one of the more accessible parts 
of the region, for the operation of gold dredges and other local uses. 

The climate has a pronounced range, varying from an average 
of less than -20° for January in the coldest parts of the Yukon and 
Tanana valleys to about 60° in July. In the upper Yukon Valley 
temperatures ranging to 100° in the summer are not uncommon, 
while in winter the temperature often drops to below that of Arctic 
regions — the extreme of -76° at Tanana being 10° lower than the 
minimum for continental United States, -66° in Yellowstone Park, 
Wyoming. The length of the growing season in the valleys of the 
Interior is only from 80 to 90 days, as compared with a period of 
from 140 to 160 days in the south central portion and in southern 
Michigan and Minnesota. Because of the prolonged daylight in sum- 
mer, however, vegetation makes rapid growth, and such vegetables 
as cabbages attain enormous size, growing without pause both night 
and day during the short season. 

Extensive areas of potential agricultural land occur in several 
locaUties, and the Tanana Valley has a number of farms producing 
vegetables, root crops, oats, and barley for local use. Fur trapping 
continues to be an important source of revenue to Natives and 
whites. Recreational features, including big game, are attracting an 
increasing number of visitors every year, and in time the recreational 
industry should be a very material factor in the local economy. 

Fairbanks in the Tanana Valley is the principal community center. 
The Alaska Railroad and the Richardson Highway furnish outlets 
to the south coast, and the extensive river system and a considerable 
mileage of gravel roads are used for transportation within the region. 
In recent years the airplane has become a major factor throughout 
Alaska generally, but in the Interior, especially, it has greatly altered 
previous conceptions of distance and opened up vast new areas of 
activity. Regular air service to Juneau, Nome, Bethel, and near-by 
points is available from Fairbanks. 

5. Seward Peninsula. Northwest Alaska is characterized by long 
cold winters and short summers. The average January temperature 
is 3°, the average summer temperature 50°. Placer gold mining is 


the principal occupation of the small white population. As in Interior 
Alaska, the one-man method of gold extraction has largely been re- 
placed by the expensive dredge type. Nome is the principal trading 
center and is reached by direct steamers from Seattle during the four 
summer months, the only period when ice conditions in the Bering 
Sea will permit navigation. Scheduled airplane service is maintained 
throughout the year between Nome and Fairbanks, thus keeping this 
outpost of civilization in easy and constant contact with the more 
populous parts of the Territory. 

The large Native (Eskimo) population relies for the most part 
on its own primitive means for existence. The reindeer have be- 
come an important part of Native economy. 

6. Arctic Slope. The northern limit of the Interior is marked by 
the Brooks Range, a chain of mountains forming the watershed 
between the Yukon Basin on the south and the Arctic Coast on the 
north, extending from Kotzebue Sound eastward to the international 
boundary, and embracing subordinate groups and ridges, such as the 
De Long, Baird, Endicott, and part of the British mountains. This 
range, named in honor of Alfred Hulse Brooks, chief Alaska geologist 
of the United States Geological Survey from 1903 to his death in 
1924, while much lower than the mountains in southern Alaska, has 
peaks rising to about 9,000 feet, and presents a strong barrier to travel. 
The area occupied by the range is about 150 miles wide, north and 
south, by somewhat more than 600 miles east and west. It is a very 
sparsely settled region, with probably less than 1,000 permanent 
inhabitants. It has a sub-Arctic climate with a very short open season 
and long, cold winters. Some small mining camps have been estab- 
lished at widely separated points, and doubtless additional ones will 
spring up as Alaska becomes more thoroughly developed. 

Northward from the Brooks Range to the coast of the Arctic 
Ocean, the country is dominantly of low relief, consisting of rolling 
uplands near the mountains, which give place northward to low, 
almost featureless plains, only slightly above sea level at the coast. 
Except for the coastal fringe it is practically uninhabited, and access 
to it is exceedingly difficult except by plane. Even the coastal area, on 
which are the principal villages, is cut off from other means of com- 
munication for much of the year, because the ocean is open for 
navigation only a month or so each summer. Except in the immediate 


vicinity of the villages there are no roads, and even marked trails 
are infrequent. Plane service from Nome is available the year round. 

Arctic Alaska is inhabited by Eskimos, who to a certain extent 
have continued their primitive cultures. Its expanse of tundra con- 
tains a few prospectors, miners, teachers, officials, and other whites 
whose business brings them to outposts of civilization. The average 
annual range of temperature is from about -i8° in January to about 
40° in July. Precipitation is slight, less than five inches a year. 

The Arctic Slope contains very extensive wild fowl breeding- 
grounds which play an important part in maintaining the wild fowl 
resources over a large section of the United States. 

Alaska is divided into four political or judicial divisions. The first 
division is that part lying east of longitude 140°, and comprises all 
of southeastern Alaska and the coast region as far west as Cape 
St. Elias. Headquarters, Juneau. 

The second division comprises western Alaska north and west 
of the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers. Headquarters, Nome. 

The third division comprises the region from longitude 141° west- 
ward to Bristol Bay and north to the Alaska Range. Headquarters, 

The fourth division comprises the Kuskokwim and Yukon valleys 
and most of the Interior north to the Arctic Ocean. Headquarters, 


DURING THE TOURIST SEASON, May to September inclusive, 
most visitors to Alaska make use of a variety of round-trip tours — 
and hence are called "round-trippers." Until the International High- 
way is completed or regular passenger-plane service is scheduled to 
Alaska, the Inside Passage from Seatde or the Canadian ports will 
remain the principal route available to tourists, save for special cruises 
to out-of-the-way points. Even when other means of transportation 
are finally provided, the Inside Passage will remain the most historic, 
scenic, and restful of all possible routes to Alaska. 

Although the round-trip tours offered by the major steamship 
companies somewhat limit the traveler's freedom of movement, they 
effect considerable savings in time and money. Reservations should 
be made well ahead of time, as the Alaska boats are always crowded 
to capacity, especially in midsummer. Visitors should map out their 
itineraries in advance with the assistance of their local travel agency, 
and should not expect to vagabond from one interesting spot to the 
next, as they might do in more thickly settled countries. The influx 
of about 25,000 visitors to Alaska each summer and the consequent 
doubling of the white population place a great strain on the trans- 


Ivi TOURS FOR ''round-trippers" 

portation facilities of this frontier country, so that only visitors un- 
commonly rich in time and travel funds can afford to ignore pre- 
arranged itineraries. Round-trippers altering their itinerary in Alaska 
should immediately get in touch with the local steamship agent — 
failure to take this precaution may result in a week or more of 
vexing delay. American vessels do not visit Vancouver, Victoria, or 
other Canadian ports. Canadian vessels, on the other hand, are not 
permitted to carry passengers from one American port to another. 

Steamer rates given are minitniim first-class fares per adult person, 
including berth and first-class meals while aboard. Most vessels offer 
steerage rates (men only; bring your bedroll or blankets). Travelers 
should add approximately $6.50 for hotel room and meals for each 
twenty-four hours ashore, unless all-expense trips are specifically men- 
tioned. Since Alaska vessels are combination freight and passenger 
steamers, variations of time and schedule occur, with occasional 
unexpected "surprise" visits to out-of-the-way ports. 

The Inside Passage from Seattle or Vancouver to Skagway or 
Juneau (see Part II, i), with a stop at Sitka, and return, is a trip 
frequently planned by the first visitor (9 or 11 days, 2,500 miles, 
minimum fare $95; ii-day trip allows 2-day stopover at Juneau or 
Skagway on some sailings). This trip may be extended from Skagway 
by a tour to Whitehorse by the White Pass and Yukon Railway 
(9 days, 2,700 miles, minimum fare $119, additional expenses about 
$6.75), or to West Taku Arm by the White Pass and Yukon Railway 
and lake steamer (9 days, 2,800 miles, minimum fare, including all 
expenses, $124), or to Whitehorse and West Taku Arm (12 to 19 
days, 2,900 miles, minimum fare $132, additional expenses from $7 
to $17.75), or to Dawson by the White Pass and Yukon Railway and 
river steamer (15 to 26 days, 3,000 miles, minimum fare $207, addi- 
tional expenses $15), or to Dawson and West Taku Arm (15 to 26 
days, 3,000 miles, minimum fare $222, additional expenses Sio). (For 
these extensions of the trip, and for Haines and Skagway, see 
Part II, 2.) 

The Prince William Sound Cruise (see Part II, 3), which extends 
the Inside Passage Cruise from Juneau to Cordova, Valdez, and 
Seward on Prince William Sound (12 days, 3,500 miles, minimum 
fare $130), is the usual method of reaching other areas and many 
tourists who make the shorter trip regret that they did not visit 
Prince William Sound and the main part of Alaska. 

The Copper River and Northwestern Railway from Cordova to 



Chitina ceased operations in 1938. There was a probability in 1939 
that Kennicott could be visited by taking the Edgerton Cutoff at 
Willow Creek (see Part II, 4) to Chitina, thence to Kennicott by 
specially operated tourist trains. 

Many travelers take the Yukon River Circle Tour (see Part II, 2), 
either upstream via Seward (35 days, 5,200 miles, minimum fare 
$307.70, additional expenses $52.75), or downstream via Skagway 
(23 days, 5,200 miles, minimum fare $315.20, additional expenses 
$29.50). The upstream tour via Seward is the more leisurely, permit- 
ting ample time at the high points of the trip — Matanuska, Mt. 
McKinley National Park, Fairbanks, Dawson, and Skagway. 

Visitors who do not care to make the Yukon River Circle Tour 
may take the Alaska Railroad (see Part II, 5) north to Fairbanks, 
visiting Matanuska and Mt. McKinley National Park, and return 
south to Valdez by the Richardson Highway (see Part II, 4), or 
reverse the order (19 days, 5,300 miles, minimum fare $198.20, addi- 
tional expenses $30). 

At Fairbanks many interesting side trips are available to the Uni- 
versity of Alaska, near-by placer mines, and points on the Steese 
Highway (see Part II, 6). Wiseman, Betdes, and Chandalar, all north 
of the Arctic Circle, where placer mining is still done by primitive 
methods, are accessible by plane from Fairbanks. A week to ten days 
spent in Fairbanks is not too much. 

No regularly scheduled passenger vessel was plying along the 
Aleutians (see Part II, 7) and in Bristol Bay (see Part II, 8) in 1938, 
but when regular service is re-established visitors with an extra month 
to spare and a love for remote points on the map should take the trip 
from Seward along the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians, thence 
northeast to Bristol Bay. The time of this trip can be cut in half by 
returning to Anchorage by plane. 

Mining activities made the Goodnews Bay and lower Kuskokwim 
area (see Part II, 8) easily accessible by plane from Anchorage or 
Fairbanks in 1939. 

Nome and northwestern Alaska (see Part II, 9) are easily reached 
in comfortable and regularly scheduled planes from Fairbanks, return- 
ing the same day or a week later. 

From Nome the Arctic (see Part II, 10) is about six hours away 
by plane. The Pribilofs (see Part II, 8), Norton Sound, Nome, and 
Siberia are also touched in special cruises (see below). 





BERING SEA CRUISE. Seattle to Nome and/or St. Michael by 
•way of Unalaska, and return (25 to 35 days, 6,000 miles, minimum 
fare $160). 

ARCTIC CRUISE. Seattle to St. Michael, Nome, East Cape 
(Siberia), and other distant points by way of the Pribilof Islands and 
Unalaska, and return via Juneau and Ketchikan (28 days, 7,000 miles, 
minimum fare $260). 

VAGABOND CRUISES. Unscheduled cruises to ports of call, 
depending on freight (12 to 25 days, minimum fare S76 to $152 — not 
recommended on first visit to Alaska). 


(Information compiled from available 1939 sources: consult local travel 
agency for current round-trip schedules and fares. Ocean- and river-steamer 
fares include berth and meals while on board; rates are those for minimum 
first-class passage per adult peison only. Times are approximate, and in- 
clude stopovers. Rates are subject to change without notice.) 

To Alaska from the Pacific Coast 











2 days 


(Inside Passage, 



3 cays 


via ocean 



3 days 





3-4 days 




4-5 days 




4-5 days 




5-6 days 




4-5 days 




5-6 days 




6-7 days 





9 days 

S80 to $90.00 

(direct, via ocean 

St. Michael 


9-10 days 

80 to 110.00 




9-10 days 

80 to 110.00 

(summer only) 




Within Alaska, British Columbia, and Yukon Territory 









10 hrs. 

(via launch) 



14 hrs. 



23 hrs. 



16 hrs. 







(via launch) 



2K2 hrs. 




7'/2 hrs. 





12 hrs. 


(via channel steamer) 

Stewart, B.C. 


12 hrs. 







(via boat) 


Whitehorse, Y.T. 



I V2 days 

(via river steamer) 

Dawson, Y.T. 



4 days 

(via river steamer) 




5 days 

(via river steamer) 


St. Michael 



(via river steamer) 



(via ocean steamer) 






15 days 

1939; con- 
sult local 




Ix TOURS FOR ''round-trippers 










2 hrs. 

Si. 50 

(via Palmer Highway) 

Valdez Fairbanks 


I Vi days 

$15 to 25.00 

(via Richardson High- Copper Cen- 


Vi day 




Copper Center 



2 hrs. 


(via Edgerton Cutoff) 




15 mm. 





(no regular 

(via Elliott Highway) 



bus service) 




% day 


(via Steese Highway) 

Circle Hot 



% day 






7 hrs. 


(via W P & Y Ry.) 





4/2 hrs. 


(via Alaska R.R.) 



9/2 hrs. 




9% hrs. 


Mt. McKinley 


28 hrs. 






30/2 hrs. 




33 '/4 hrs. 





2 hrs. 


(via Alaska R.R.) 

Mt. McKinley 


2/2 hrs. 



Mt. McKinley 

4^2 hrs. 


• Time given includes lunch, scenic, and overnight stops; for running time see 
time tables. 

Note: The Alaska Railroad offers special summer round-trip rates of 
a fare and a third. 





(Every important area is served by one or more airlines offering fre- 
quent flights, scheduled or unscheduled, to any district in Alaska or adja- 
cent districts in British Columbia and Yukon Territory, summer and 
winter; mileage, time, and fare are approximate.) 













local travel agency) 



Whitehorse, Y.T. 






4^/2 hrs. 



Circle Hot Springs 












Hot Springs 




Bethel (stops at 


5/2 hrs. 



Nome (stops at 


5/2 hrs. 


Ruby & Flat) 



3/2 hrs. 




3 hrs. 




3/2 hrs. 





5 hrs. 









2/2 hrs. 



Candle ^ 

Kotzebue - 


local trave 

1 agency) 

Barrow J 




(Rates based on information supplied by travel agencies; hotels and 
roadhouses listed are not especially recommended or preferred to others, 
but are those at which "round-trippers" usually halt en route. Approxi- 
mately $6.50 a day per person will insure good and comfortable hotel ac- 
commodation and three meals.) 


Anchorage, European plan. $2.50 to $3.50 per day per person. Bus 
meets trains. Free bus. Hand baggage, 25 cents between station and 
hotel. Transfer on trunks, $1.00 each. 

Parsons, European plan. $3.00 to $4.50 per day per person. Bus 
meets trains. Bus rate per person, including hand baggage, 25 cents 
each between station and hotel. $1.00 for trunks each way. 


Caribou Hotel, European plan. $2.00 per day up. Meals: breakfast, 
$1.00; lunch, $1.25; dinner, $1.50. 


Chitina, American plan. $5.00 per day per person (includes lodging 
and two meals). 


Windsor, European plan. $2.00 to $4.00 per day per person. 


Curry (operated by Alaska Railroad, Department of the Interior), 
European plan. S3.00 to S4.00 per day per person. All meals Si. 50 


Royal Alexandra, Regina, Yukpnia, European plan. $2.00 to $6.00 
per day per person. Meals, 75 cents to $1.50. 


Nor dale. Pioneer, Northern, European [ilan. S3.00 to $6.00 per day 
per person. Free bus between depot and hotel. Baggage each way: 
trunks and grips, 50 cents each; small packages, 25 cents each. Arctic ^ 
$1.00 to $2.00 per day per person. 


Baranof, Gastincatt, Juneau, European plan. S2.00 to S4.00 per day 
per person. 




Ingersoll, Stedman, European plan. $2.00 to $4.00 per day per person. 


Savage River Camp, American plan. $7.50 per day per person. 

McKinley Par^ Hotel (operated by the Alaska Railroad, Depart- 
ment of the Interior). I4.00 to $5.00 per day per person. Breakfast, 
$1.00; lunch, $1.50; dinner, $2.00. 


Southern, Cooney, European plan. $1.50 to $2.00 per day per person. 


Mataniis\a Lodge, European plan. Single room, $2.50; double 
room, $3.50 to $4.50. Weekly and monthly rates on request. 


Paxson's Lodge, lodging, $2.00 per night. 


Van Gilder, Sew^ard, European plan. $1.50 to $4.00 per day per 


Golden North, Pullen House, White House, European plan. $1.50 
to I4.50 per day per person. The first two named, American plan at 
guest's option, $5.00 and up per day per person. 


W hitehorse Inn, Regina, European plan. $2.50 to $4.50 per day per 


(Except as otherwise noted, meals at the various Interior towns will 
average from 75 cents to $2.00 each.) 


Bennett (lunch station only). Table d'hote lunch, Si.oo. 


Gull{ana, Paxson, Big Delta, $1.00 each. 


Lunch at Healy, $1.00. Lunch at Palmer (Matanuska Colony), 50 
cents to 75 cents. 



(Fares arc round-trip jxt adult {XTson) 

At Juneau: Points of interest in Juneau, Juneau to Auk Lake 
and Mendenhall Glacier and return, by automobile (34 
miles) $ 2.50 

Juneau to Taku Glacier and return, by plane (85 miles, 4 

passengers minimum) 9.00 

Juneau to Mendenhall Glacier and return, by plane (40 

miles, 5 passengers minimum) 4.50 

Juneau to Lake Hasselborg or Lake Florence and return, 

by plane (trips by special arrangement) 

Juneau to Atlin and return, by plane (200 miles, 4 pas- 
sengers minimum) 35-00 

Juneau to Taku River Lodge, by plane (5 passengers mini- 
mum) 6.00 

At Skagway: Skagway to Lake Bennett by the White Pass and 
Yukon Railway and return (fare includes lunch at 
Bennett) 7.50 

At Valdez: Valdez to Keystone Valley and return, by automo- 
bile 5.00 

At Seward: Seward to Palmer and return, by the Alaska Rail- 
road 12.60 

At Anchorage: Anchorage to Lake Spenard and around Loop 

Highway and return, by automobile 3.50 

Anchorage to Palmer over highway, including sightseeing 
trip through the Matanuska Valley and return, by auto- 
mobile 5.00 

At Palmer: Sightseeing trips through Matanuska Valley, by 

automobile 1.50 

At McKinley: 48-hour stopover in Mt. McKinley National 
Park: all-expense tour including transportation, lodging, 

meals 38-50 

Motor trips $7.50 to 30.00 

TOURS FOR "round-trippers" IxV 

At Fairbanks: University of Alaska and Experiment Station 

and return, by automobile 2.50 

University, Experiment Station, and Farm Road mining dis- 
trict and return, by automobile 3.50 

Summit, dredges, and Chatanika and return, by automobile 6.00 
Combined trip, including University, Experiment Station, 
Farm Road, dredges, and mining section and return, by 

automobile 10.00 

Fairbanks to Circle over Highway, returning same evening 
to Circle Hot Springs for overnight stay, returning to 
Fairbanks following day, by automobile (including meals 

and lodging) 30.00 

Midnight sun flight June 21 (trip by special arrangement) 

Flights may be arranged to Wiseman, Bettles, Fort Yukon, 


(Many other side trips to near-by points of interest are given in 
Part II in connection with the localities described.) 



IN ALASKA, north of time, two utterly dissimilar eras dwell together 
at the same moment. A world of streamlined industrial techniques 
exists side by side with ancient cultures, in a country so old as to be 
brand new, where the physical process of creation is still going on. 
Many times a day scenes illustrate this double time-world. A plane 
circles down and comes to rest beside a skin kayak, its design un- 
changed for a thousand years. A Tlingit Indian carves his "family 
tree" with an adze on a forty-foot totem pole — but works "on the 
line" in a cannery buzzing with the best of modern automatic ma- 
chinery. Along the benchlands near Fairbanks great gold dredges 
nuzzle into the gravel and disturb the bones of dinosaurs, trapped 
and buried here millions of years ago — monsters strikingly resembling 
the dredges in size and shape. 

An hour's summer flight north of Juneau, Alaska's bustling little 
capital city, leads to a world in which time has hardly yet begun. A 
stop is made at Strawberry Point to deliver the mail and taste Alaska 
strawberries. As Strawberry Point falls between the silver shoes of the 
pontoons, something that looks like cotton-stuffing from a torn com- 
forter begins to unroll overhead — fog, the dread of pilots in the north. 
The plane skims lower and lower. Finally it alights to chug along 
the surface of the water, dodging baby icebergs that begin to drift 



\ I 

I. /"■ 
/ ) 

O F 

' -4 

i- - _ V 

■■■II c- >-■—,-'-%■ 

I _ 

d-* \' 



from the ice walls in Glacier Bay. At last, by a series of leaps in the 
air and scuttlings along the water, the plane penetrates an inlet, 
blocked by a wall of utter white crevassed with rifts of violent blue — 
a glacier. 

Suddenly summer is done. A cold wind blows from the back door 
of creation. The plane, its passengers in shoes and hats, the sharp 
smell of gasoline, the taste of strawberries warm from the sun — all 
these cease to be. They cannot be; it would be an incredible anachro- 
nism for them to be. Yet on the moraine, almost against the ice, is the 
tent of a prospector for gold, and from it runs a red-haired girl in 
riding breeches with a packet of camera film. 

Of this place John Muir wrote a generation ago, "One learns that 
the world, though made, is yet being made, that mountains long 
conceived are now being born, channels traced for coming rivers, 
basins hollowed for lakes; that moraine is being ground and out- 
spread for coming plants — coarse boulders and gravel for forests, finer 
soil for grasses and flowers — while the finest part of the grist, seen 


hastening out to sea in the draining streams, is being stored away in 
darkness and builded particle on particle, cementing and crystaUizing, 
to make the mountains and valleys and plains of other predestined 
landscapes, to be followed by still others in endless rhythm and 

Being present toward the beginning rather than toward the end of 
a phase of the life-process is a new sensation for most of us sons and 
daughters of industrial civilization. Alaskans feel that sensation every 
few years when in the Interior or "to westward" the Great Land 
suddenly wrinkles its hide and the needle of the seismograph at the 
University of Alaska swings to register an earthquake. A smoking 
volcano in the Aleutians becomes ominously clear, and ash and super- 
heated gases burst out of monster vents, as at Katmai, where there 
took place in 1912 what geographers believe to be the greatest volcanic 
eruption in recorded history. Or in the glacier country a few million 
tons of ice recede, hills and valleys are uncovered, for the first time 
in thousands of years the sun warms the earth, a spruce seed falls, 
and the process of life begins. 

A feeling of awe can hardly fail to be experienced in some degree 
by the most hardened traveler in Alaska. Even an unromantic scien- 
tist, Robert F. Griggs, who directed a National Geographic expedition 
to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, wrote, "The sensation of 
wonder and admiration which came first to all soon gave way to one 
of stupefaction. The magnitude of the phenomena simply overcame 
us. . . . For the first few days we were simply overawed. For a while 
we simply could not think or act in the ordinary way. At night I 
would curse myself, as I lay in my blankets, and make a list of the 
things I wanted to do the next day; but when morning came I could 
not move myself to action. I could only look and gape." The members 
of this expedition, trained scientists, suffered acutely from the impact 
of this tremendous natural commotion upon their civilized minds; 
one at least experienced complete nervous exhaustion. "A large factor 
in my feelings," frankly confessed the leader of the expedition, "was 
plain fear." 

Some such feeling overwhelmed even that matter-of-fact eighteenth- 
century seaman, Lemuel Gulliver, when on the seventeenth day of 
June, 1703, he was shipwrecked on the Alaska coast. Even in 1939 it 
still seems appropriate that Gulliver should have found in this land 
men "as tall as an ordinary spire-steeple, taking ten yards to a stride, 


speaking many degrees louder than a speaking-trumpet in voices so 
high in the air that it sounded Hke thunder." Another world-traveler, 
Baron Munchausen, attempted to laugh off the appalling size of these 
regions with a stale exaggeration or two. 

Physiographers since Gulliver's and Munchausen's day have at- 
tempted to scale down the sheer size of nature's undertakings in 
Alaska by homely devices. They have amused themselves by setting 
the Brobdingnagians of our day — our tall buildings — side by side with 
its ice pinnacles; by drawing a plan of the city of Washington full 
size on an inconsiderable portion of Columbia glacier; by dropping, 
one by one, every building in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and 
other boroughs of New York City, into the crater of Katmai, leaving 
it still unfilled. Agriculturists have pointed out that little Matanuska 
Valley could supply enough vegetables for the entire population of 
Alaska and a generation unborn. Forestry experts state that new 
timber growth could supply annually one-quarter of the total require- 
ments of the United States in newsprint. 

But such statistics are only a kind of whistling in the dark. Every 
honest person, who penetrates Glacier Bay, or looks up at the face of 
Columbia Glacier, or gazes into the heart of the Valley of Ten 
Thousand Smokes, or wonders at the wreathed summit of Smoking 
Moses, or sees for the first time the double silver summit of Mt. 
McKinley still sunlit at ten-thirty at night, experiences fear. That 
fear is something more than mere awe at size. It is the sense of two 
worlds of time coexistent — the knowledge that five thousand years of 
civilization are a day in the life of such a land as this. It is the sudden 
realization that while Jeremiahs howl in the streets of our capitals, 
lamenting the imminent fall of western civilization, here in the Great 
Land, not a hundred hours' traveling time from our great cities, it is 
the morning and the evening of the first day. 

The time-traveler might journey in 1939 west beyond the western- 
most city in continental United States to Goodnews Bay, Alaska. 

In 1937, Platinum was Alaska's newest boom town with a popula- 
tion of forty-eight white men and two white women. On a sandspit 
were perched two long, single-story trading posts, one of which con- 
tained the post office. Beyond was a spanking new roadhouse, the 
most imposing structure of the settlement, with its dining room and 
kitchen on the first floor and its sleeping room crowded with cots on 
the second. Between the post office and the roadhouse were corrugated 


iron sheds, two shacks in which beer was sold, and a flock of white 
tents huddhng on wooden floors. Smudge on the horizon marked 
the position of the freighter Laporte, laden with two thousand tons — 
500,000 dollars' worth — of dredge, fast on a sand bar. She was ulti- 
mately floated off, just in time to miss a storm that would have 
scuttled her. 

In the roadhouse, waiting for the Laporte to pull off the bar, the 
total male white population of Platinum talked shop. Fifty-cent gravel, 
thirty-cent gravel. Postelthwaite of New Zealand. Lae, in New Guiana, 
where four 1,200-ton dredges and two hydroelectric plants were 
freighted in over the mountains by plane. The Lena and Amur rivers 
in USSR, where American engineers installed five gold dredges for 
the Ural Platinum Trust and showed the Russians how to run 'em. 
Arguments waxed over yardage, power, gasoline consumption. An 
engineer in the uniform of that breed the world over — leather boots, 
khaki breeches, red kerchief — pulled out his pocket slide rule to 
prove a point. The others agreed or disagreed violently, pouring out 
instances, figures, facts from their personal knowledge of mining 
learned all over the world. In the late summer of 1937 there was set 
up in this tiny settlement the latest in mining dredges. Its buckets, 
each a ton's weight, began scooping a yard of gravel at a time. The 
gravel moved down the hopper into the screen, the coarse tailings 
traveled up the belt to be piled behind the dredge as it inched its 
snout along, and the pay dirt moved to the washing table, there to 
settle down along the riffles — platinum! 

Fifty paces from the roadhouse toward the beach, living in a world 
five thousand years before this new world of slide rules and half- 
million-dollar dredges, was a tiny village of Eskimos. Their huts were 
holes dug in the ground, surmounted with a driftwood frame covered 
with flattened gasoline tins or skins, or perhaps with white man's 
canvas. Their walrus-skin boats rested upside down on the beach. 
Their dogs, half-starved because it was summer when beasts can do 
no work, strained at their leashes and howled at the racks of sun-dried 
salmon beyond their reach. The men were away fishing, and the 
village contained only old men, women, children, and cripples. The 
women made grass baskets to trade at the store for tins of white man's 
food or yards of gingham, biding the time when their men would 
return from the canneries with food, blankets, and silver dollars. 
Although dependent upon the white man, this village touched the 


white man's civilization but slightly. And although many of these 
Eskimos had never seen an automobile, and certainly none of them 
a horse, even the children hardly looked up when a plane roared down. 

Few other corners of the modern industrial world have seen the 
application, on so large a scale, of the latest discoveries of science 
to the age-old occupation of mining. All over Alaska monstrous 
dredges are pushing their snouts forward, leaving behind mile upon 
mile of tailings: on the flats of Nome, at Circle, at Flat, at Dead wood, 
at Ruby, near Fairbanks, where students from the University of 
Alaska watch beside the hydraulickers for the bones of prehistoric 
creatures. Many of the original gold prospectors of the Klondike are 
dead; others have survived the revolution in mining methods; still 
others are lively old sourdoughs in the Pioneer's Home at Sitka. 
Their dance halls are deserted, their Klondike Annies respectably 
aged, their pokes of gold dust spent. Their old stamping grounds are 
being reworked by modern methods. 

Mining today is an affair of mathematics, of finance, of the latest 
in engineering skill. Cautious men behind polished desks in San 
Francisco figure out in advance the amount of metal to a cubic yard, 
the number of yards washed a day, the cost of each operation. They 
have no need of grubstakes. Before they have made the initial invest- 
ment they know, as well as any solid businessmen can know, what 
their profit will be. 

Alaska's greatest and most profitable industry, fishing, has retained 
some of the color and flamboyance lost when individual placer mining 
was replaced by mechanized dredging. During the brief salmon season 
fishermen pour into southeastern Alaska and Bristol Bay, not only 
from other parts of Alaska, but from the entire Pacific coast. 
Preachers, schoolteachers, clerks, old men and young children leave 
their customary occupations to set gill nets and rush their catch to the 
canneries. Relatively high earnings for this brief period are not 
uncommon, and a yarn is current in Alaska about a prisoner in the 
Dillingham "jailhouse" who, setting his gill nets not far from the jail, 
cleared S826 for the season. The calm shallow waters of Bristol Bay 
suddenly become alive with a fleet of ocean-going steamers, long since 
retired from transoceanic service, and now used to transport, shelter, 
and feed thousands of seasonal fishermen brought from the Pacific 

The farming and grazing land in Alaska is as extensive as the 


farming areas of all the North Atlantic states as far south as Virginia. 
Grains, such as rye, wheat, oats, and barley, are successfully grown in 
the Interior, away from the wet coastal area, and hardy vegetables 
can be grown almost anywhere, even within the Arctic Circle. Alaska 
potatoes not long ago took first prize at a State fair in Minnesota. 
Yet there are only about i,ooo farmers in Alaska — this, in spite of the 
fact that Alaskans consume annually farm produce imported from the 
States valued at almost four million dollars. Although it was one 
of the earliest activities of civilized man, farming was the last to be 
undertaken thus far north of time — not for lack of rich farming land, 
but for lack of transportation and marketing facilities. 

Not only for farmers is transportation the crucial factor in the 
future development of Alaska. It is of prime concern to the miners 
in the Interior, the fishermen in southeastern Alaska, Bristol Bay, 
and along the Aleutians, the merchants in the principal cities, the fur 
farmers all over the territory, the lonely Eskimo reindeer herders, the 
sheep herders in Umnak, farther west than Honolulu — to every 
Alaskan, in fact, who has a stake in the country. One of the un- 
fortunate historical facts concerning the Great Land is that from its 
first sighting by Vitus Bering in 1741 to its most recent gold rush 
the psychology of its development has been that of the exploiter 
rather than that of the permanent resident whose future is bound up 
with the future of the country. 

There are, to be sure, nearly six hundred miles of railroad operat- 
ing the year round in Alaska, including the government owned and 
operated Alaska Railroad; approximately 2,300 miles of automobile 
highway; 1,650 miles of grubbed and cleared sled roads; and 7,250 
miles of trail. Much use is made of waterways, especially along the 
Yukon and Tanana rivers, in the salt-water channels and inlets of 
southeastern Alaska, in Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, along the 
Aleutians, and in Bristol Bay — all these, except the last, open the year 
round. About forty commercial companies operate approximately one 
hundred planes the year round, making use of approximately 100 
landing fields, public and private, as well as inlets, sounds, and im- 
provised landing places on sand bars, glaciers, and snow fields in 
winter. Three American and two Canadian steamship companies 
provide freight and passenger transportation to Alaska from the 
Pacific Coast. Yet these means of transportation, adequate for a 
pioneer country concerned mainly with the development of natural 

10 T H E (; R E A T L A N D 

resources, are pitifully slight for a land with such a capacity for 
development as Alaska. 

The combined area of Sweden and Norway is about equal to the 
area of Alaska, and their latitudes are roughly equivalent. Yet Sweden 
and Norway support a population more than one hundred fifty times 
the population of Alaska today. "The temperate zone of Alaska," 
said President Harding in an address at Seattle in July, 1923, "is an 
area near three times that of Finland. Its climate is milder and more 
equable. Its forests and fisheries exceed those of Finland. Its coal 
deposits are among the world's greatest, while Finland has no coal. 
Its wealth in gold has scarcely been scratched, Finland has no gold. 
There is copper in Finland, but there is a thousand times as much in 
Alaska. Two of Europe's great cities, Christiania (Oslo) and Petro- 
grad (Leningrad), are situated farther north than the richest and 
most populated part of Alaska. Stockholm, the 'Venice of the North' 
with 400,000 population, is in the same latitude as Juneau. Glasgow, 
one of the world's greatest workshops, with over a million inhabitants, 
if translated in its own latitude to the Pacific coast of America, would 
be the metropolis of Alaska. Copenhagen, with 600,000 population, 
is in almost exactly the same latitude as Wrangell, Alaska. Helsing- 
fors, the capital of Finland, on the extreme south of the country, 
would be an interior city of Alaska, yet it is one of the fine cities of 
Europe. This study of latitude and location seems likely to help in 
projecting a picture of the future Alaska. The climate in Alaska as to 
temperature is no more severe on the coast than in the greater part 
of our northern mainland. The extreme colds are often no more 
trying than in Washington, D.C." 

The assumption is that because millions of people live happily and 
thrive in Scandinavian countries, Alaska can support a similarly dense 
population. But the case is quite different. Not only are soil and 
climatic conditions different in Scandinavia, but the economic and 
social settings are radically dissimilar, and above all, a large market 
is there ready-made. The comparison is tempting and frequendy 
drawn, but not wholly applicable. 

Although Alaska is the United States' last frontier, it is by no 
means the traditional frontier of covered-wagon days. The suggestion 
has often been made that with vast areas in the United States subject 
to drought conditions and other hazards, with substantial amounts 
of land of a marginal or submarginal character, and with fewer 


opportunities for the small operator to profit from exploitation of land 
resources, Alaska offers a new frontier. No doubt in a limited sense 
Alaska does provide some opportunity of this character, but hardly 
as a solution to a problem which may exist in the United States. 
Agriculture is usually responsible for permanent settlement in a new 
country; but soil and climatic conditions in Alaska are such that no 
embracing economy can be developed principally upon an agricultural 
basis. Whatever agricultural development occurs in Alaska will be 
dependent upon the extent to which mining and industries adjacent 
to agricultural lands are developed. Industries based upon renewable 
resources, such as timber, fish, and wild life, or upon the scenic 
attractions of Alaska, or mining, will be far more important to its 
future than any type of farming. And all these industries require 
much more capital than pioneers are likely to possess. 

The density of population and the number of urban communities 
within a region are usually indices of its industrial development. 
Based upon these criteria, Alaska is only in the first stages, for in 
1930 it had only 30,000 white inhabitants, and only seven cities of 
1,000 or more population. These figures acquire added significance 
when it is realized they relate to a Territory to which the parent 
country paid little constructive attention prior to the middle 8o's of 
the last century — a situation indicated by the fact that not a single 
"little red school house," long a symbol of our national public pride, 
had been erected in the Territory. Down to 1937 the total mileage of 
public highways constructed was about equivalent to that which is 
regarded as necessary in continental United States to care for the 
needs of an area approximately 36 miles square. Yet 30,000 people 
undertook an ocean journey almost transatlantic in time equivalent, 
despite the fact that historical forces have not developed in the Ameri- 
can people a bent for overseas enterprise, and despite the lack of 
comforts to which the immigrants had been accustomed. 

Within forty years these thirty thousand persons constructed a 
school system of some one hundred Territorial free schools, and 
II four-year accredited high schools; established a university with a 
student body of over two hundred; and created industries that ship to 
continental United States products with a maximum annual value 
of $76,500,000. Alaska cities, though small in size and number, have 
provided themselves with essential public utilities and public improve- 
ments. All this testifies to the fortitude and initiative of those to whose 


hands Alaska yielded its wealth, as well as to the bounty of the 
natural wealth of the Territory. 

But an increase in the population of these towns and rural com- 
munities depends, in part at least, upon the extension and improve- 
ment of existing and additional cultural and social amenities of 
normal living found in twentieth-century America. For these cities to 
keep step with a changing America requires the continuing invest- 
ment by communities and by the Territory in education, libraries, 
public utilities, transportation, communication, recreation, and other 
essentials of general welfare. They require the expenditure of public 
funds which can be derived only through taxation. 

It is safe to say that the extraction of natural wealth from Alaska 
has benefited continental United States more than it has Alaska. 
This wealth, becoming the property of absentee owners, leads to 
greater accumulation of capital in the United States, but none within 
the Territory. Without local accumulation of capital there can be no 
local reinvestment, and no stimulus to develop industry or home 
markets. In view of this and the special difficulty created by the fact 
that most of the Territory is owned by the Federal government, it has 
been suggested that Alaska might take special measures to make 
capital available to its citizens, and the Federal government grant 
special aids in lieu of taxes upon the property in its possession in 
order to enable Alaska to hold the population which is economically 
attached to it. 

Alaska has been influenced by a conscious national policy of con- 
servation which has been in operation for some years. Conservation 
means principally securing a sustained yield from resources which 
are expendable or exhaustible through unrestricted use, but which, 
with care and good management, need never be destroyed. By far 
the greatest number of Alaska's natural resources fall into this cate- 
gory — the fisheries, wild life, and forests being among the more 
important. Conservation slows up the tempo of exploitation of natural 
resources, of course, and there is a group of anticonservationists who 
prefer to see Alaska serve solely as a source of raw materials for the 
United States, and would subordinate cultural and transportation 
development to this one end. Such an Alaska is undoubtedly possible. 
It is capable of making considerable contributions to the welfare of 
the people of the United States as long as the resources last. It would 
be a "boom" Alaska developed as a result of a policy of frank ex- 


ploitation. Such a policy would have to look to the accumulation 
within the Territory of a sufficient labor supply to make exploitation 
possible. Accumulation of capital within the Territory would not be 

After the boom, this Alaska would probably be thinly populated. 
Most of the resources would have been exported for the benefit of 
absentee owners, and its people would depend upon what remained 
of depleted mineral resources. Ghost towns would dot the country. 
A Uttle local industry and some agriculture would be scattered here 
and there. All the governmental services would be demanded just as 
in boom days. The ownership of the mines and other resources would 
be largely in the hands of a few large corporations, and little local 
capital would be available. 

An alternative policy of development looks toward a future Alaska 
with its own well-rounded economy and gradual accumulation of 
capital within the Territory itself. A policy shaped toward this end 
would aim at the ultimate attainment of a considerable degree of 
financial independence for Alaska. It would be directed toward an 
Alaska with a course of development analogous to that of the United 
States, Australia, South Africa, and other countries which were but 
thinly populated by Natives before they were settled by white men. 
Such countries first borrow capital from the outside and pay for the 
servicing of their debts with exports of raw materials. At the same 
time they begin to accumulate capital, so that they need to borrow 
less and less as time goes on. Ultimately, they may even retire all or 
most of their foreign debt — a position achieved by the United States 
only after the turn of the twentieth century. Whether this Alaska is 
possible is by no means certain. 

The two types of development are not mutually exclusive: the first 
type must, from its very nature, result in some setdements, though 
perhaps not all permanent; the second must furnish a substantial 
quantity of raw materials to the United States, but over a longer 
period of time. No doubt the future Alaska will develop somewhere 
between the two extremes, and the rapid tempo of development 
characteristic of the whole history of the United States will be bal- 
anced by a careful preservation of natural resources. 

Another factor in the future of Alaska, little realized in the past 
but today becoming increasingly evident, is that Alaska lies not at 
the ends of the earth but with its front door opening on nations of 


the North Temperate Zone. The Polar Sea has been called by Dr. 
Vilh)almur Siefansson "the Mediterranean of future civilization, the 
middle of the 'civilized' world. . . . The Polar Mediterranean is al- 
ready more easily crossable by the nations which surround it than the 
old world Mediterranean was when the Carthaginians and the 
Romans fought their ancient wars." Thus Alaska, instead of re- * 
maining the United States' last frontier, may be already crossing the 
threshold of a new civilization. 

Before any serious development of Alaska from its present pioneer 
stage becomes possible, much preliminary work still remains to be 
done. Less than half the Territory is mapped, and there is immediate 
need of a series of good aerial maps, followed by detailed mapping. 
A forest and range experiment station will have to be estabhshed, 
fur-farming methods studied, wild life needs investigated, insects and 
mosquitoes controlled, and more research made into the life habits of 
fish. Alaska materials need to be tested and analyzed, and a thorough 
inventory made of lands and their potential uses, of water resources 
and their possibilities for power, and of transportation needs. From 
studies such as those made by the Alaska Resources Committee, and 
from further study, there will no doubt eventually be evolved a sound 
program for Alaska's development. 

In his lifetime the Alaskan has seen the Territory grow from a 
wilderness to a point where it assumes an entity of its own and begins 
seriously to consider the problem of its future. In recent years naviga- 
tion by air has made this land a crossroads of the world, and Sir 
Martin Frobisher's dream of the year 1576 of opening a northwest 
passage to Asia has bewilderingly become real. Something of this 
dizzy telescoping of time is reflected in the character of the towns. 
What would in the States be a county seat of 2,000 inhabitants be- 
comes in Alaska a roaring metropolis, filled with taxicabs, lined with 
large shops full of merchandise, boasting a daily paper, banks, insur- 
ance companies, office buildings, churches, restaurants, taverns, clubs, 
movie houses, industrial firms, and an airport. The tempo of Alaska 
is also reflected in the melancholy ghost towns that loom so bravely 
on the map, so pitiful in reality, the inhabitants of which have 
dwindled in a generation from thousands to a scant dozen who live 
in the shells of false-fronted buildings bearing weatherbeaten signs 
that boast "tavern," "bakery," or "hotel." 

Even seasons of the year present two facets of the double-time 


world in which the Alaskan dwells. His summers are filled with the 
gabble of the Iron Chink in the canneries, the beat of fishing-boat 
engines, the blast of water from the hydraulicking monitors, the slub- 
bing of dredges, the clang of sledges as the points are driven into 
frozen gravel, and the roar of airplane motors overhead. In the fall, 
as he packs his grubstake and makes for his trapping cabin, industrial 
civilization melts like a flake of snow on his cheek. 

Bestriding two worlds of time, often isolated from his fellow 
citizens of the United States and even from his fellow Alaskans, the 
white frontiersman has something of the character of a westerner of 
Andrew Jackson's day, but without the Jacksonian's provincialism. 
He comes of a stock with the north in its blood — the commonest 
names in the Alaska file of the Social Security Board are Anderson 
and Johnson. He is self-confident, aggressive, believes all white men 
his equal and himself the equal of any white man. He hates pretense, 
and whether wage-worker or capitalist disregards socal distinctions 
based on property and station — but he is likely to share in the dis- 
trust of Orientals and Natives, so common among residents of the 
Pacific Coast. In spite of his equalitarian turn of mind, he is a stub- 
born individualist, and beneath an open manner he is lonely, reserved, 
and resentful of any word or deed he interprets as a slur or slight. 
He is quick of hand, master of many skills, amazingly well-read, an 
amusing conversationalist, and the best of good companions. 

The Native is the survival not only of a battle in time but of a 
long fight against appalling health conditions, poverty, the crumbhng 
of ancient social patterns and the impact of new ones, perpetual eco- 
nomic insecurity, and the attitude of members of a supposed "superior 

Each ethnic group retains a strongly individual character marking 
it off from the rest. The Eskimos are perhaps the most versatile 
people in North America. Before the coming of the white man they 
were superb examples of the ability of man to adapt himself to en- 
vironment. After the arrival of the "Boston men" they became whalers, 
in less than a generation completely altering their pattern of living. 
When mass starvation threatened them at the end of the last century, 
they needed hardly more than a hint to adapt themselves to an 
entirely new culture — the Lapland reindeer herdsmen's life. Yet their 
versatility is not accompanied by any weakness of character — they are 
hardy extroverts with a strong sense of fun. Their neighbors, the 


Athapascan Indians of Interior Alaska, are in almost every way the 
opposite of the Eskimo, with their voicelcssness, their hidden, perhaps 
only half-conscious life, their poetic and decorative genius, their acute 
introversion. The Aleuts, with their broad, smiling faces, their devo- 
tion to the priests of their turnip-topped Russian Orthodox churches, 
look more like Russian mujiks than the remnants of a great Es- 
kimauan people. Like the Czar's peasants they have a stoic capacity 
for suffering in silence; like the peasants they are subject to terrible 
swift rages. The Tsimshians at Metlakatla have developed the most 
complete cooperative type of living along modern lines to be achieved 
by any Indian tribe in North America. The Tlingits possess a great 
unwritten literature illustrated with carved totem poles and objects 
of ceremony, a few chapters of which have been crudely translated by 
white men. The Haidas still retain their proud, warriorlike carriage, 
and their hands are as skillful as ever in combining the utilitarian 
with the creative in articles for ordinary use. 

"The Eskimos and the Indians of Alaska had become masters of 
their environment before we arrived. We came, learned their methods, 
adapted their style of clothing and their modes of travel. We, like 
Kipling's Pioneer, have come back and done the talking. We are 
called the pioneers. And the Native? Well, he doesn't count." So 
writes Charles Hawkesworth, of the Alaska Office of Indian Afifairs, 
adding, "Has not the time arrived to change this point of view?" 

Perhaps the best comment on Alaska is contained in a news item 
that appeared in an Alaska paper. "John Swanson returned yesterday 
on the Aleutian from a trip outside. When he left, John claimed that 
thirty-six years in Alaska was too long. After spending three months 
in Montana, he figures that a lifetime in Alaska is just about long 


WHEN SAN FRANCISCO was still a village of mud huts, and 
long before the American frontier had been pushed to the Pacific 
Coast, Russian promyshlenif{i, or trader-explorers, invaded Alaska. 
They had crossed the Urals in the sixteenth century, and by 1640 had 
reached the Amur and engaged in battles with the Chinese. By 1713 
they had overrun Kamchatka and, soon after the 1741 voyage of 
Vitus Bering, established trading posts in Alaska, writing the last 
chapter in the great eastward expansion of Russia. Not until the 
"Boston men," as the Yankee sailors engaged in the triangular trade 
between New England, China, and the northwest coast were called, 
began to hunt whales and buy furs along the Alaska coast at the 
beginning of the nineteenth century, did American relations with 
Alaska begin. Actual penetration of the interior by Americans did 
not take place to any extent until long after the purchase of Alaska 
by the United States, during the gold rushes that began in the late 
1890's. Thus the first one hundred fifty years of Alaska's history 
belong not to North America, but to Europe. 

Vitus Bering, born in 1681 of Danish parents and enlisting in the 
Russian navy while still a boy, was the first to establish that Asia 



and North America were separate continents. He early fell into dis- 
favor with the Russian court, and since has been called hard names 
by historians: "imbecile," "timid, hesitating, and indolent," among 
others. Yet Captain Cook, a thoroughly scientific navigator, later con- 
firmed the accuracy of Bering's observations, writing, "In justice to the 
memory of Bering, I must say that he had delineated the coast very 
well, and fixed the latitude and longitude of the points better than 
could be expected from the methods he had to go by." No man can be 
called indolent who, like Bering, transported a great provision train 
and huge quantities of supplies, as well as anchors, cable, and metal 
for shipbuilding, nearly two thousand inhospitable miles to the wilds 
at the mouth of the Kamchatka. As to Bering's timidity and imbecility, 
they resolve themselves, upon reading the accounts of his voyages, 
into the caution of an explorer who cleaves to his main purpose and 
has some regard for the lives and health of his men. 

Many questions awaited Bering as he started on his first voyage. 
Was there a northwest-east passage? What was that "great land" 
from which were occasionally deposited on the coast of Asia great 
logs of spruce and cedar and the dead bodies of strange animals? 
What and where were the "streights of Anian" that map makers 
said separated Asia from America? What lay along the east coast of 
Asia north of Yeso (Japan) ? What was the Pacific coast of America 
like north of California? 

On most contemporary maps, directly opposite Siberia, was a 
vaguely outlined continent marked America pars. The name Anian 
arose from a misunderstanding by the cartographers of Chapter 5, 
Book 3, of Marco Polo's Travels. Polo's Ania was no doubt the pres- 
ent Anam; but the Dutch cartographers thought it to be northeast 
Asia, and called the body of water separating the two continents so. 

Shortly before he died, Peter the Great of Russia himself wrote 
down Bering's instructions: "i. At Kamchatka or somewhere else two 
decked boats are to be built. 2. With these you are to sail northward 
along the coast, and as the end of the coast is not known this land 
is undoubtedly America. 3. For this reason you are to enquire where 
the American coast begins, and go to some European colony; and 
when European ships are seen you are to ask what the coast is called, 
note it down, make a landing, obtain reliable information, and then, 
after having charted the coast, return." 

Peter died on January 28, 1725, when a part of Bering's expedition 


had already started for Kamchatka. Bering followed early in February, 
and his lieutenant, Chirikoff, started later. Not until nearly three 
years afterward did the expedition arrive at its starting point — having 
spent three winters pushing through uncharted country, often suffer- 
ing from sickness and starvation. 

As soon as the worst of the winter of 1727-8 was over, Bering 
began the building of the Gabriel, fitting it with rigging, cable, and 
anchors his men had dragged two thousand miles over a roadless 
wilderness. The provisions consisted of "butter" (fish oil), "meat" 
(dried fish), and "vodka" (spirits distilled from a local grass known 
as sweet straw). On July 9, 1728, with a crew of forty-four, Bering 
started on his first exploratory voyage. On August 10, he saw and 
named St. Lawrence Island. Sailing well within the boundary that 
today separates the USSR from Alaska, he passed to westward of 
the Diomede Islands, one of which he saw and named. Here he had 
his first piece of bad luck, for a fog prevented his seeing North 
America, clearly visible on bright days, as it was to Cook forty years 
later. As he could no longer see the coast extending to the north in 
the same way, he turned back at latitude 67° 18' north, longitude 
193° 7' east of Ferro Isl. It was late in the season, Kamchatka had 
to be reached before the end of the summer, the rigging was worn, 
and the provisions were giving out. Bering arrived at the mouth of 
the Kamchatka on September 2, 1728. 

Wintering on the lower Kamchatka, Bering pondered over his 
voyage, pieced together stories of the Natives and, from hunters' tales 
and from the character of the surf, the birds, and the driftwood, 
decided that there must be a great wooded land to the east. He de- 
termined during the following summer to set out and explore it. He 
made the attempt, sailing very close to Bering Island — one day to 
be his burial place — but missed the island on account of fog. Buffeted 
by a severe storm, he was forced to return, but succeeded in charting 
the coast of Kamchatka. 

On March 30, 1730, Bering returned to St. Petersburg. Here began 
a series of comi-tragic encounters with the scientists of the day. The 
Academy of Science, young and full of gusto, attacked him severely. 
Two of its members, the German Gerhard Fr. Mueller and the 
Frenchman Joseph Nicolas de I'lsle, consulted the maps which they 
had drawn with the aid of sailors' yarns and their own musings by 
the lamp, and informed Bering he had not been where he said he had. 


Bering, who seems to have been a patient man, journeyed to Mos- 
cow to see Anna Ivanovna, who had just ascended the throne. He told 
her of the great land which he suspected of being part of America, 
and proposed a Great Northern Expedition to chart its coast and to 
trade with its inhabitants. The final result of his negotiations was a 
ukase of sixteen paragraphs that outlined, among other purposes of 
the expedition, the charting of the whole of the American coast north 
of Mexico, a visit to Japan, and the charting of the entire coast of 
Siberia. The hand of the Academy of Science is evident, accomplish- 
ing by a few strokes of the pen what actually could be carried out 
only by generations of Russian, British, French, and Spanish expedi- 
tions. Bering was also directed to set up a mail service between 
Moscow and Kamchatka and the Chinese border, although between 
Yakutsk and Okotsk, along a distance of 700 miles, there were no 
roads, not a single Russian hut, and certainly nobody who could 
read. Only by the intervention of Kiriloff, secretary of the Senate, was 
the Admiralty prevented from sending Bering to Alaska by way of 

The Academy branch of the expedition included an astronomer, a 
physicist, a historian, two landscape painters, one surgeon, one inter- 
preter whose acquaintance with all the tongues of antiquity was 
supposed to equip him to converse with the Natives of Alaska, one 
instrument maker, five surveyors, six scientific assistants, and four- 
teen bodyguards. The astronomer alone had nine wagon-loads of 
instruments, while the Academicians shared among them thirty-six 
horses, a library that appropriately included Robinson Crusoe and 
Gulliver's Travels, and seventy reams of writing paper. The officers 
were promised, in case of success, large increases of salary and pro- 
motions, and the rank and file were threatened, in case of failure, 
with the knout and exile to Siberia. 

To Bering's great credit, he managed to get this learned republic, 
this earthbound Laputa, safely to the Kamchatka coast. In the ten 
years between 1734 and 1743 a series of expeditions, all planned by 
Bering (but most of them not under his command), succeeded in 
charting and exploring the northern coast of the old world and 
discovering the new, with the addition of a side trip to Japan. 

In May, 1741, the ice broke up and Bering undertook his great 
voyage to America. He had decided to make his course east by north. 


which would have fetched him up somewhere along the Aleutians, 
but was prevailed upon by members of his scientific republic to take 
a southeasterly course. At latitude 49° 30' Bering separated from 
Chirikof, his lieutenant, and kept on in command of the St. Peter 
north and east, sailing parallel to the Aleutians, the deep water giving 
him no hint of land so near. Finally, on July 16, he sighted Mt. St. 
Elias in southeastern Alaska, which is about 18,000 feet high, and 
anchored off the western coast of Kayak Island, which he named 
St. Elias, not far from the glacier that today bears his name. Here 
members of his expedition found a timber house, a bark basket, a 
wooden spade, some smoked fish, and a broken arrow. Bering ordered 
left by way of indemnity for such articles as he took an iron kettle, 
a pound of tobacco, a Chinese pipe, and a length of silk. Georg 
Wilhelm Steller, the naturalist of the expedition, a strong-headed but 
capable man, wrote, "One can easily imagine how happy all were to 
see land. No one failed to congratulate Bering, as chief of the expedi- 
tion, to whom above all others the honor of discovery belonged. 
Bering, however, heard all this, not only with great indifference, 
but, looking toward land, he even shrugged his shoulders in the 
presence of all on board." 

On the basis of this passage, historians have accused Bering of 
weakness and irresponsibility. They have failed to take into account, 
however, that the man was sixty years old, ill of scurvy — one of the 
symptoms of which is profound melancholia; that one-third of his 
crew was down with scurvy; that, being over 56 degrees of longitude 
from the nearest port, he had to decide at once whether to winter on 
this inhospitable coast or return immediately. Wisely he chose the 
latter, and the next day headed southwest, passing the Afognak- 
Kodiak group July 26, mistaking a small island east of Afognak for 
a promontory of the mainland and naming it Black Point. He 
also passed what was probably Chirikoff Island, and somewhat later 
the Semedi group. On August 7, north of the Semedis, scurvy struck 
down the remainder of the crew. It was already August, the home 
port of Avacha was 1,600 miles distant, and September was the 
extreme limit of time when a safe return could be made. At a meeting 
of the officers it was decided to leave off charting the American coast 
and start home on parallel 52° — a decision backed up by the crew, 
all members signing the resolution. 

More bad luck pursued Bering, for head winds set in, and while 


the ship battled these the water gave out. Bering headed north in 
search of water, and in three days reached the Shumagins, which 
he named for a sailor who died there. Bering was now too weak to 
stand, and his lieutenants were constantly quarreling among them- 
selves. Stellcr managed to save the lives of the entire expedition by 
gathering a number of antiscorbutic plants and with an infusion of 
them restoring Bering and the others. Waxcl, in command during 
Bering's illness, stubbornly refused to allow Steller to send a crew 
ashore to gather more plants for the return voyage. In the meantime 
KhilroiT, Bering's other lieutenant, left the ship with the yawl and 
five men to investigate a fire seen on one of the islands, was ship- 
wrecked, and had to be rescued. The wind changed, and, swept 
along by a storm on the 51st parallel, they saw land again to the north. 
This was Atka; but they supposed it to be part of the American 
continent. Says Steller, "The wind seemed as if it issued forth from a 
flue, with such a whistling, roaring and rumbling, that we expected 
every moment to lose mast and rudder, or to see the ship crushed 
between the breakers." The crew was unable to stand watch on 
account of scurvy, and "their courage was as unsteady as their teeth." 

To everyone's astonishment, land kept appearing again and again 
on the north, as they passed the Aleutians. On October 29th they 
passed what were probably the Semichi Islands, east of Attu, and on 
November 4th Copper Island, which they thought was the mainland. 
Bering wanted to press on — "We still have the foremast and six casks 
of water," he stoutly remarked. But such was the weakness of officers 
and crew that the St. Peter drifted without a helmsman, finally fetch- 
ing up off the center of a high, rocky country, with mountains rising 
straight out of the sea — what is now Bering Island, part of the 
Komandorski group. Here Steller made his scientific reputation by 
his splendid description of wild life. But in spite of the fact that 
Steller once saved the lives of the members of the expedition, and here 
brought glory to it by his splendid scientific studies of Bering Island, 
he was even less recognized by geographers than Bering. Not until 
1885 was Mt. Steller, on Bering Island, belatedly so named. Mt. 
Steller, Alaska, about 70 miles west of Mt. St. Elias, perpetuates his 
name in the western hemisphere as well. 

Out of the seventy-seven men aboard the St. Peter, thirty-one died, 
among them Bering on December 8, 1741. "He was, so to speak, 
buried alive. The sand kept continually rolling down upon him from 


the sides of the pit and covered his feet. At first this was removed, 
but finally he asked that it might remain, as it furnished him with 
a little of the warmth he so sorely needed. Soon half his body was 
under the sand, so that after his death his comrades had to exhume 
him to give him a decent burial." 

Chirikof, who had parted from his chief off the Aleutian Islands, 
sailed on to the east in command of the St. Paul, and on July 15, 
1741, discovered the coast of Alaska just north of its southern bound- 
ary, the day before Bering sighted Mt. St. Elias. Near Sitka he lost 
a landing party among hostile Natives, and decided to return, reach- 
ing Siberia after great hardship, as did Bering's men after construct- 
ing a vessel from the wreckage of the St. Peter. 

Prior to Bering's voyage Michael Gvozdef, a surveyor, headed an 
expedition to the Alaska coast. Little is known about his voyage, but 
he is supposed to have touched the coast of Alaska near Norton 
Sound in 1730. No further Russian expeditions were undertaken 
after Bering's until 1761. After this Seward Peninsula was surveyed. 
But meanwhile fur traders, hearing of the richness of this new land, 
began to penetrate the Aleutians as early as 1745. Gregor Shelikof, 
a merchant and fur trader, sent his men on voyages of discovery as 
far south as Prince William Sound, Yakutat, and Lituya Bay. He 
established the first permanent settlement in Alaska at Three Saints 
Bay, Kodiak Island, in 1784. Two years later a second one was made 
by the Russians on Cook Inlet at the mouth of the Kasilof River. 
In the early nineteenth century Golovnin, von Kotzebue, and Etolin 
explored the western Alaska coast, Nasilef explored the Kuskokwim, 
Glazunof explored Norton Sound and the mouth of the Yukon, and 
MalakofF and Zagoskin ascended the Yukon to Nulato. 

Spain, intrenched in Mexico and California, found it easy to send 
expeditions to the north Pacific coast, and between 1774 and 1794 
Spanish navigators explored southeastern Alaska. Bodega y Quadra 
made two excursions to this region, the second in 1779, contem- 
poraneously with the Englishmen Cook and Vancouver. La Perouse 
headed the sole French expedition to Alaska in 1786, covering much 
the same waters in southeastern Alaska as the others. 

Meanwhile, England had not given up the search for the North- 
west Passage begun by Sir Martin Frobisher in 1576, as such a trade 
route would enable England to compete with Spain in the Indies 
trade. After Frobisher, generations of Englishmen continued the 


search: among others, Davis, Weymouth, Knight, Hall, Hudson, 
Balfin, and Cook. Captain James Cook made a northwest voyage in 
1778, sailing into the Arctic Ocean until halted by the ice, correct- 
ing Bering's reckonings and establishing new ones so accurate as not 
to be altered by later navigators. In the north, the Englishman Beechy 
in 1826 sailed as far as Point Barrow, to which he gave its name. 
In southeastern and southwestern Alaska, Meares, Portlock, and 
Dixon surveyed the coast. George Vancouver, who had sailed on 
Cook's northwestern voyage, returned to Alaska in 1791 and so accu- 
rately charted the bewildering coast and coastal islands of the south- 
east that his maps remained in constant use for fully one hundred 
years. But the Northwest Passage was not accomplished even by Sir 
John Franklin, who died on the ill-fated expedition in 1847. Not until 
1906 did any navigator sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific, when the 
Northwest Passage was finally completed by Roald Amundsen, in 
his sealing sloop Gjoa, the voyage taking three years. In 1931 it was 
flown by the Lindberghs in stages, the entire journey from New York 
to Tokyo taking less than a month. 

Permanent occupation of Alaska by Russians rested on the eco- 
nomic base of trade in furs. The fur traders ruled by the sword and 
the knout, reassuring themselves with the Russian proverb, God is 
on high and the Czar far atvay. The protests of the Aleuts re- 
sulted in no visible sign of anger from Heaven, but they reached at 
least the ears of the Little Father, who in 1794 threatened to with- 
draw trading franchises from the promyshleniI{i. Five years later 
Emperor Paul gave the exclusive rights to a new trading corporation, 
headed by Gregor Shelikoflf, the Russian America Company, on con- 
dition that it promote discovery, commerce, and agriculture, and the 
propagation of the Greek Catholic faith. From 1799 to 1863 the com- 
pany virtually ruled Alaska. Alexander Baranof, a drygoods salesman 
of Siberia, was chosen as chief director of the company, with residence 
at Kodiak; and for twenty years this man was master of all Alaska. 

Baranof organized the country into six districts, and his word was 
sole law. He enslaved the Aleuts and made war upon the less docile 
Indians. He established trade relations with the English, Americans, 
and Spanish, and sent his trading ships, fourteen of which he built 
and launched from Alaska ways, to Japan, Hawaii, and Mexico. A 
man of iron will, energetic, shrewd, and a competent administrator, 
he founded, according to the terms of the charter, churches and 


schools, and promoted discovery and agriculture, but above all trade, 
trade, trade! When he had exhausted the natural resources of the 
Aleutians he moved his capital to Sitka in 1802, and from his wooden 
"castle" on the hill surmounting the harbor made Sitka the most 
brilliant capital in the new world. Yankee sailors, thrashing around 
the Horn, beating their way up the California coast, anchored at last 
in Sitka harbor and found the city an American Paris, its streets 
crowded with adventurers from half the world away, its nights gay 
with balls illuminated by brilliant uniforms and the evening dresses 
of Russian ladies. 

The Tlingits of the Sitkan archipelago, unlike the milder Aleuts, 
fiercely resisted the advance of the Russians, and in May, 1802, 
massacred most of a party at Old Sitka. New Sitka was then estab- 
lished and thoroughly fortified. As the Archangel Gabriel, to whom 
Old Sitka had been dedicated, had failed to protect it against the 
heathen, the new capital was entrusted to the care of the Archangel 
Michael, and for some years the town was known as New Archangel. 

Slowly the Russians expanded in western, southern, and south- 
eastern Alaska, establishing settlements or trading posts in Sitka 
Sound, Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, Kodiak, on five of the 
Aleutian Islands, on the Pribilofs, at Nushagak in Bristol Bay, and 
even in California. Meanwhile, explorations were being made up the 
Copper River, along Bristol Bay, and into the Arctic Ocean. 

Baranof, who now controlled settlements and trading posts as far 
north as Bristol Bay and as far south as Ross, California, had con- 
cluded a commercial agreement with the American fur-trader Astor, 
and became ambitious of extending his trade to the Sandwich Islands. 
He was displaced in 1818, however, by the Russian navy, which 
wished to arrogate to Russia alone the rich trade of North America. 
Baranof died on the return voyage to Russia at the age of seventy-two, 
and was buried in the Indian Ocean. 

Under the rule of the Russian navy foreigners were barred from 
Alaska, and a ukase of 1821 attempted to close the whole coast north 
of 51° to all but Russians. England and America resented this, and 
the United States was successful in 1824 in securing an agreement of 
equal trading privileges for ten years north of 54° 40'. Baranof's 
trading post at Ross, California, was sold to John A. Sutter, owner of 
the mill where gold was discovered in 1849. 

In this period there arrived at Unalaska Father Innokenti Veni- 


aminoff, who worked for seven years among the Aleuts. He learned 
their language, and established the foundations of Alaska anthro- 
pology, which still makes use of his writings. The Aleuts adopted the 
religion of their conquerors, according to Dall, because they felt that 
a God who could save from eternal torment such cruel men as their 
Russian masters must be remarkably efficacious and powerful. "How- 
ever this may be, in Veniaminoff came a man who dealt justly and 
loved mercy. . . . He learned their language, studied with affectionate 
comprehension their manners and customs, recorded the climatic and 
physical conditions under which they lived, and in his Notes on the 
UnalasJ{a District has built the only existing foundation for the an- 
thropology of the people he served so well." 

The sale of Ross and the death of Baranof coincided with the end 
of the great period of Russian expansion. Alexander the First was 
involved in the Napoleonic wars and in putting down the restless 
serfs. Alaska remained Russia's only maritime province, and after 1863 
the Russian government refused to renew the charter of the Russian 
America Company. 

The westward expansion of the United States, however, was be- 
ginning, and one of the symbols of this expansion was the Western 
Union Telegraph Expedition to Alaska in 1865-7. Successively laid 
Atlantic cables had failed to work, and an alternate plan was pro- 
posed of laying a cable overland north through British Columbia, up 
the valley of the Yukon, across Bering Strait into Siberia, and thence 
south to Europe. Russian consent was secured. Robert Kennicott, in 
charge of the expedition, was succeeded after his death by William 
H. Dall, the explorer and historian, and Frederick Whymper, author 
of Travels in Alaska. From their surveys the interior of Alaska was 
mapped for the first time, and much knowledge concerning the 
resources of that unknown country made available. In 1867 the At- 
lantic cable began to operate successfully, and the Western Union 
expedition withdrew from Alaska. Partly as a result of this expedi- 
tion, purchase of Alaska was being discussed in the United States. 

President Polk had been elected in 1846 on a high tide of national- 
ism exemplified in the campaign cry, "Fifty-four Forty or Fight." 
The frontier now dictated American foreign policy, and Polk's at- 
tempt to claim American territory on the Pacific coast north to the 
Russian possessions almost led to war with England. American 
whalers and trading vessels operated illegally but openly in Alaska — 


an odd touch in history is the cruise of the Confederate war vessel 
Shenandoah in the Arctic in 1865 and its shelUng of Yankee whalers. 
The Hudson's Bay Company had been operating in Alaska for half 
a century. Weary of its American province, Russia, according to a 
speech in the United States Senate by Charles Sumner, "wished to strip 
herself of all outlying possessions as Napoleon had stripped himself 
of Louisiana, in order to gather her strength for her struggle with 
England for the control of Asia." Russia was also quite aware, as 
Napoleon had been, that if it did not soon sell its American posses- 
sion it would lose it, without profit, to England. 

The mystery is not why Russia wished to sell, but why the United 
States wished to buy. The answer lies probably in the tremendous 
pressure the expansionist-minded frontier at this time exerted on policy 
at Washington. Indications of its temper were seen in the organiza- 
tion in San Francisco by Louis Goldstone of a fur company to 
succeed to the lease of the Russian America Company which later 
became the great rival of the Alaska Commercial Company, and 
the memorializing of Congress by the legislature of the Territory of 
Washington in an attempt to secure fishing rights in Alaska. It 
appears that the Russian representative, Baron Stoeckl, spent upwards 
of $200,000 in the United States to enlist legislative support for the 
sale, reimbursing himself from the purchase price of $7,200,000, and 
forwarding to the Russian government $7,000,000. Charges of bribery 
of public men and of newspaper publishers and correspondents in 
five cities were freely made but never fully proved. According to 
Colder, when the Russian ambassador left the United States he ex- 
pressed himself cynically as sick of the corruption of congressmen and 
other public men and as hoping that some day they would be 
worthy of the country they represented. According to Clark's History 
of Alasl{a, a full examination of all the details of the purchase leads 
to "the inevitable conclusion that the chief reason for the United 
States buying Alaska was William H. Seward," the American secre- 
tary of state. At any rate, a new step in American policy — expansion 
beyond the territorial limits of the United States — had been taken. 
"It is certain," adds Clark, "that the purchase of Alaska was not made 
in any spirit of farsighted policy, yet by almost stumbling into a 
treaty, we have wrought far greater than even Seward, its most 
enthusiastic supporter, ever dreamed." 

As salutes were being fired and the American flag hoisted at Sitka 


on October i8, 1867, an astute American, H. M. Hutchinson, was 
receiving the rights and property of the Russian America Company, 
which he had purchased. His enterprise, incorporated in 1S70 as the 
Alaska Commercial Company, for twenty years had a virtual mo- 
nopoly of the Alaska fur trade, especially fur-seal taking on the 

From 1867 to 1897 Alaska fell into official neglect, "No American 
ever made a reputation founded upon his knowledge of territorial 
aflairs, and his success in administering them," remarks Paxson in his 
History of the American Frontier, and the early administration of its 
maiden colony by the United States was no exception. Kipling's line, 
"There's never law of God or man runs north of 53," refers to this 
period of Alaska history, flatly called by Clark "the reign of lawless- 
ness and corruption that we encouraged." "A history of conditions 
in Alaska from 1867 to 1897 is yet to be written," remarks Dall, 
"and when written few Americans will be able to read it without 
indignation." During these days Alaska was "a country where no 
man could make a legal will, own a homestead or transfer it, or so 
much as cut wood for his fire without defying a Congressional pro- 
hibition; where polygamy and slavery and the lynching of witches 
prevailed, with no legal authority to stay or punish criminals." Not 
until the appearance of Jeannette Nichols' History of Alas/^a, in 
1924, was a detailed history of these years offered to the general 

The stampeders to southeastern Alaska and the Seward Peninsula 
in the late 1890's and early 1900's, although technically without civil 
authority, created their own form of local self-government. Just as 
the New England settlers, three hundred years before, had set up their 
town meetings, so the miners organized their "miners' meetings" to 
enforce order, settle boundary disputes, and administer rough and 
ready justice. Too often this form of government failed to cope with 
thousands of stampeders milling about a town with accommodations 
for a scant hundred, and in more than one instance miners' meetings 
were broken up by army officers. Yet the profound instinct of the 
American people for self-government and their tradition of democracy 
made local self-government effective until the creation of the Alaska 
Legislature in 1912. 

English-speaking missionaries appeared in Alaska before the pur- 
chase. In 1862 Archdeacon Robert McDonald of the Church of Eng- 


land arrived at Fort Yukon, learned the local dialects, and translated 
the scriptures into Tinneh. The Rev. J. L. Prevost, Episcopalian, issued 
from the YuJ{on Press the first book printed in the Yukon Basin, a 
hymnal in Tinneh. The first Episcopal bishop of Alaska was Peter 
Trimble Rowe, who was sent to Sitka in 1896. The Presby- 
terians established missions in southeastern Alaska about 1878, and 
one of their leaders, Sheldon Jackson, who later became general agent 
of the Bureau of Education, first introduced reindeer into Alaska. 
The Rev. Samuel Hall Young, dean of Presbyterian missionaries in 
Alaska, published articles and books descriptive of its life. Catholic 
missions were established in 1877 by the Rev. J. Charles Sehgers, and 
a number of Catholic missionaries made valuable contributions to the 
ethnology of the Tinneh and Eskimo. The Baptists established mis- 
sions in southeastern Alaska and at Kodiak from 1898 on, as did the 
Methodists in the southeast. The Moravian Church established mis- 
sions along the lower Kuskokwim and in Bristol Bay about 1885, 
when most of this region was practically unknown to Americans, and 
made some important ethnological research among the Eskimos on 
the Kuskokwim. 

Gold was discovered in the Canadian Klondike in 1897. But this 
stampede was somewhat reduced by the Spanish-American War 
in 1898 and by the enormous difficulty of reaching the Klondike area. 
A majority of the Klondike prospectors came from the United States, 
and those who were not successful on the Dawson creeks drifted down 
the Yukon into Alaska, and from the mouth of the Yukon fetched 
up at Nome. In 1899, too late to organize prospecting parties for that 
year, gold was found on the beach at Nome between the low- and 
high-tide levels. Here was gold that could be simply washed out of 
sand — gold not at the end of a strenuous journey over mountains and 
unmapped plains but on a beach near which ships could anchor. 
Moreover, the General Land Office decided that claims could not be 
staked in land below ordinary high tide, so that the right to pan gold 
here was as free as the right to fish, as available to the latest comer 
as to the first. 

The transportation companies, charging $125 for a one-way passage 
to Nome and $40 a ton for freight, announced that the golden sands 
were twenty to twenty-five miles wide and two hundred fifty miles 
long. Thousands of people (claimed the advertisements) were earn- 
ing $300 a day and many more than that; in the tundra, diggings 


ran $4,000 to the ton, and $500 nuggets were to be found; on the 
beach itself "gold clung to the ship's anchors when they were drawn 
up." No wonder that by June, 1900, ten thousand gold seekers had 
left Tacoma and Seattle for Nome. Twenty-five thousand more were 
expected during the summer at the New Eldorado, advertised as a 
peaceable town with "five or six policemen and a whole regiment of 
United States soldiers," a number of good hotels and "no theatrical 

The appearance of smallpox on steamers returning from Alaska in 
July was the first indication that all was not perfect in the new land. 
The captain of a revenue cutter reported that there were no cases 
ashore, but that an epidemic of typhoid was expected. He added 
tersely that there were ten thousand people on the sands at Nome 
without money or work or any prospect of a paying claim. 

By August, reports about Nome reached the United States in 
letters from the prospectors. Gold there was — in a narrow strip of 
beach three-quarters of a mile long. Five hundred men were working 
this, earning from five to ten dollars a day. There was gold in the 
tundra, but the ground had to be thawed before it could be worked 
— and coal cost $150 a ton. Nome City consisted of two filthy streets 
without a sewer or even a ditch. Aimless, restless crowds milled 
through them. Drunkenness and gambling were everywhere, murder 
an almost daily occurrence. Men were shot down in the center of 
town and no arrests made. For three miles along the beach there were 
tents, twenty deep. Gold seekers were still arriving at the rate of 
almost a thousand a day, and there was not even tent room for 
them. Women and children were sleeping uncovered on the wet 
sands. Thousands of tons of every conceivable kind of freight lay in 
inextricable heaps on the beaches, unprotected from tide and theft. 
There were no sanitary arrangements, and the drinking wells, from 
three to fifteen feet in depth, were contaminated. Twenty-seven cases 
of smallpox were reported by the authorities in July, and typhoid and 
pneumonia were already beyond control. The pesthouse was full and 
refusing to take more cases, and quarantine was impossible. An old 
miner wrote to the Treasury Department late in August to say that 
Nome was not as black as it was painted. He insisted that there 
was gold, he had seen diggings worth sixty dollars a ton; there had 
only been twenty cases of smallpox; in six weeks there had been only 
twelve violent deaths, and several of these were suicides. 


Fur traders complained that fur taking had been cut in half by 
prospectors who had killed the animals for food. Faced with the 
disappearance of game, the Eskimos were naked and without food. 
The census taker had visited seventy-four Indian villages and seen 
only three fires; there was sickness in every tent, and some villages 
were more than half wiped out by fever. Governor Brady believed 
that the epidemic was "lagrippe attended by measles and pneumonia," 
and added that the diseased Natives "become stupefied and utterly 
helpless and lie down to die." Anywhere from twenty to forty thou- 
sand people were stranded on the beach at Nome. Many of them 
had spent every cent they had for a one-way passage. Some were taken 
back to the States on revenue cutters, but others remained in Alaska 
to look for gold in the Tanana district, or to work on the railroads in 
the south. The golden tales of fortunes to be won in the north ignored 
the thousands of luckless stampeders who perished in the Klondike, 
and on Valdez Glacier from 1898-1900. 

In the wake of the great gold stampedes came the discovery of 
Alaska by the fictioneers and their public. Over the Chilkoot pass 
with the stampeders in '98 came about a hundred young newspaper 
men and a few women, who quickly acquainted American readers 
with the hardships and romance of the trail. Among them were 
Robert W. Service, Margaret Rambeau, Joaquin Miller, Francis Bar- 
rett Willoughby, Rex Beach, Jack London, Jack Holt, and Sam C. 
Dunham. Jack London's first story about Alaska, "A Klondike Christ- 
mas," was published in the Overland Monthly, January, 1899, and by 
1905 he had published six books and dozens of short stories. Kipling 
used Alaska as a subject for a poem and two short stories. 

Before the spruce trees could be cleared from the townsite of 
Dawson, a newspaper was being sold to the stampeders. Newspapers 
had long been issued in Alaska — The Esquimeaux appeared in 1866 
as a manuscript newspaper for circulation among members of the 
Western Union Telegraph Expedition, and was later printed at San 
Francisco. The first commercial newspaper in English was the Alaska 
Times, issued by Thomas G. Murphy, a tailor, at Sitka in 1868, and 
edited by William Sumner Dodge, the town's first mayor. The 
Yu\on Press, appearing on January i, 1893, was the first paper of 
the Interior, edited by the missionary, the Rev. J. L. Prevost, at St. 
James Mission at the mouth of the Tanana, and issued with the help 
of such pioneers of the Yukon as Jack McQuesten, Al Mayo, Al 


Harper, and Gordon C. Bettlcs. The Alasl{a Free Press was established 
in Juneau in 1897, and after the great stampede that came the follow- 
ing year, many newspapers were begun along the Yukon Trail. A 
literary paper, the Rampart Forum, was published in 1898 by a group 
of writers who had failed to locate a paying claim on the Klondike 
and had drifted down the Yukon as far as Rampart, because it was 
too much work to pole upstream. The magazine cost, in mimeo- 
graphed form, a dollar a copy, and was well worth it, as among its 
contributors were Jack London, Rex Beach, and other writers who 
later became well known. The staff took the first boat down the 
Yukon in the spring of 1899 and migrated to Nome. The Nome 
News was first published in October, 1899, by J. F. A. Strong, later 
governor of Alaska. In all, over 200 newspapers and magazines have 
been issued in Alaska since 1866. 

Some means of transportation to the Interior still had to be devised 
that would not take frightful toll in lives of stampeders. Some previ- 
ous exploration had been done by Americans. The Alaska Commercial 
Company, founded in 1869, contributed considerably to the knowledge 
of southwestern Alaska. The Western Union Telegraph Expedition 
had established a route along the Yukon Valley. The first steamboat 
ascended the Yukon in 1866, and in 1869 Capt. C. W. Raymond, of 
the United States Army, led an expedition up the river to determine 
the position of Fort Yukon. John Muir the naturalist, with Rev. S. 
Hall Young, explored parts of southeastern Alaska in 1879. The 
following year Ivan Petrov, an agent of the tenth census, made 
his great report on the geography, population, and resources of Alaska. 
Lieut. Frederick Schwatka crossed the Chilkoot Pass in 1883 and 
arrived at the source of the Yukon, which he navigated to its mouth. 
Lieut. Henry T. Allen made a remarkable expedition in 1885 in the 
Copper River and Tanana Valley regions, living ofT the country with 
his party. After the discovery of gold in the Klondike region of the 
Canadian Yukon, a series of trails was laid out by army officers. 
Capt. P. H. Ray and Lieut. Wilds P. Richardson made an expedition 
in 1897-8 in the Canadian and American Yukon valleys. When stam- 
peders started to struggle over the Valdez Glacier on the way to the 
Copper River country. Captain Abercrombie from Valdez and Captain 
Glen from Cook Inlet surveyed trails; and Lieutenants Lowe, Castner, 
and Herron, among others, made successful expeditions in this area. 


Many other army officers led expeditions surveying trails, and in 1903 
the army completed a cable connection with the United States. 

Long after the first gold rushes, Alaska was still without any 
real road throughout its entire area. Travel was largely made by boat 
or pack train in summer and by sled in winter over dangerous and 
lonely trails. In 1905 Congress established a board of road commis- 
sioners for Alaska. Liberal charters were offered by the Federal gov- 
ernment to any company that would undertake to build a railroad. 
After a few years of encouragement, confidently predicted the New 
Yorf{^ Tribune, Alaska would be gridironed with steel highways. "The 
fertile valleys and lonely wastes of that great Territory are being 
awakened by the shriek of the construction locomotive and the sub- 
dued roar of the steam shovel." 

The White Pass and Yukon Railway, under the joint jurisdiction 
of the United States and Canada, connecting Lynn Canal with the 
Yukon, was already in operation. But the "shriek and roar" of rail- 
road planning was most active in south central Alaska. At least 
five companies proposed lines to run from the Gulf of Alaska to 
Fairbanks or the Upper Yukon. There were only two possible routes — 
the railroad would have to follow either the Susitna or the Copper 
River basin. The only serious problem was the harbor terminus. There 
were few possible harbors in the Gulf of Alaska. The best of these 
was on Resurrection Bay, and there the Alaska Central began con- 
struction, booming the town of Seward and laying a road toward the 
Susitna as far as Turnagain Arm. 

Four companies were trying to build along the Copper River. At 
Valdez, "New York capital with extensive holdings in copper and 
gold and plans for fisheries and steamship lines" was beginning rail- 
road construction. The same group also had a right of way from 
Katalla and started construction on these routes simultaneously. Both 
presented engineering problems. From Valdez there was a difficult 
mountain pass. At Katalla there was no harbor, and it proved im- 
practicable to build a breakwater. In the meantime two engineers who 
had worked on the White Pass Railway started a railroad from Orca 
(later named Cordova). This route was bought by the New York 
company when seven miles of track had been laid. The Copper 
River and Northwestern Railroad was then built from Cordova to 
the Kennecott copper mines, a run of about 200 miles. The "New 
York capital" referred to was organized in 1906 as the Alaska Syndi- 


cate. The Syndicate was primarily a copper company but it also had 
extensive holdings in the salmon industry and controlled, with one 
exception, the Alaska steamship lines. 

The fourth company attempting a railroad along the Copper 
River was the Alaska Reynolds Company, which capitalized on the 
enthusiasm of the people of Valdez, who were left stranded when 
the Copper River and Northwestern took Cordova for its terminus, 
and sold stock in the United States on the basis of antimonopolistic 
propaganda — an "honest" railroad would be built from the coast to 
the Interior and the powerful companies would be thwarted. Gover- 
nor Brady, whose position and naive honesty gave weight to his 
endorsement, became a member of the board of directors and wrote a 
personal letter addressed to the investors, whereupon the secretary 
of the interior asked him to withdraw his name from the company's 

Before 1900 the Copper River Company had asked the government 
for militia to protect its abandoned right of way from Valdez but was 
refused, and by 1904 it was freely said that the company would fight 
to prevent any other company taking over the Keystone right of 
way. Surveyors for the Reynolds Company entered Keystone Pass 
in 1906, and one was shot by an employee of the Syndicate, Hasey. 
Hasey was tried and given a short sentence. This was a vital issue 
in Alaska politics as late as 1912. 

Meanwhile, the Alaska Reynolds Company had failed and the 
project of a railroad from Valdez to Fairbanks was abandoned. But 
the Keystone Canyon episode crystallized public opinion in Alaska 
against the Syndicate, and for many years a stand against "big- 
business" on the part of any Alaskan in public life assured him of 
immediate popularity. 

Congress passed a fisheries bill in 1906 in an attempt to conserve 
the diminishing supply of salmon. One section of the bill, drawn up 
by an officer of the Alaska Syndicate, provided a rebate on canning 
taxes for companies that maintained private hatcheries. Although the 
rebate represented only a portion of the sum being spent by the com- 
panies to conserve Alaska salmon, it took money from the Alaska 
Fund that would otherwise have been spent on roads and schools, 
and so increased the unpopularity of the Syndicate, which, in addition 
to being charged with failing to build the railroad and with con- 
trolling the administration of justice, was accused of diverting public 


money to its private ends. When in 1906 Alaska was allowed an 
elected delegate, the election was won by the candidate who ran on 
an anti-Syndicate platform. At every election there were charges of 
irregularities in the voting, of intimidation by the Syndicate, of em- 
ployees discharged on political grounds. "The Syndicate" and "Wash- 
ington" had become interchangeable terms of abuse employed by 
the citizens of Alaska, and "home rule" their battle cry. 

The United States coal-land laws had been made applicable to 
Alaska in 1900, but these laws required public surveys in order to 
locate a claim, and there were no surveys in Alaska. In 1904 private 
surveys were permitted and claims accepted at two dollars an acre, 
individual holdings being limited to 160 acres and company holdings 
to 320 acres. Such a claim was too small to justify railroad building 
and no claims could be worked without railroads. The unworkable 
laws bred subterfuge, and this, coupled with the private nature of 
the surveys, produced a situation that Congress could not control. In 
1907, accordingly, all coal lands were withdrawn from entry, and 
railroad construction stopped. 

Both railroads under construction ran close to coal fields and had 
counted on coal lands to pay for their building and operating. The 
Alaska Central, starting at Seward, ran to within eighty miles of the 
Matanuska coal fields. When these lands were withdrawn the com- 
pany ceased building. Transportation from Seward to Turnagain 
could not maintain a railroad, and in 1909 the company failed. The 
Copper River and Northwestern ran within thirty miles of the in- 
terior Bering fields. Carrying copper from the Kennecott mines to 
Cordova, which was the primary purpose of the railroad, kept it in 
operation, but it was unable to begin work on the Fairbanks branch 
until the coal fields should be opened to make this a profitable run. 

In 1907 Congress began to consider a bill for a government railroad' 
to connect the Gulf of Alaska with the Yukon, near Eagle; a bill 
opposed both by the Alaska Central and the Copper River and North- 
western. A spokesman for the Alaska Syndicate explained that no 
subsidy was necessary, and that the effect on the stock market of the 
proposed railroad would "in a measure kill all of the enterprises 
heretofore started. . . . Congress could not very well subsidize a 
railroad when private companies were anxious to build without 
subsidy." As an alternative, it was proposed that the government 
back bonds of companies undertaking to build in Alaska, But the 


Alaska Syndicate needed no such backing, and this proposal was also 

The Taft administration faced three important problems in con- 
nection with Alaska: its government, its railroads, and its coal. The 
people of Alaska believed that if the first of these were properly solved 
— if Alaska were given home rule — they could handle the other matters 
themselves. President Taft's opinions on the administration of Alaska 
were waited for anxiously. Taft appointed Governor Clark, who re- 
assuringly declared, "Equal opportunity must be offered, within the 
limits of their respective abilities, to rich and poor alike." In 1909 
Taft visited the Alaska Exposition in Seattle, found the display "most 
attractive," and suggested that the administration of Alaska be put 
under the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department. This, he 
explained, was "practically the government which was given to the 
Philippine Islands." 

The words were ill chosen. If the people of Alaska had any 
doubts about their position, the fact that they were classified with 
Malayans made it clear enough. That the President should think of 
governing Alaskans as the United States governed Asiatics was 
humiliating to men bred to believe in the "yellow peril." That it was 
also impractical was proved during the Taft administration. 

The Republican party split largely over this issue, and Taft was 
baldly accused by Senator Dolliver of being too close to men "who 
knew exactly what they wanted." In drafting the bill to place Alaska 
under the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department, Taft 
refused to see the elected Alaska delegate, saying he had made up his 
mind on the subject and no interview would change it. The bill was 
defeated in Congress. Another bill was drawn giving corporations 
with contracts to, or through, any coal fields the right to lease five 
thousand acres of coal land in addition to those already held. To 
Alaskans this seemed to give the Alaska Syndicate five thousand acres 
of coal in addition to the twenty-five hundred acres they were sus- 
pected of having acquired, and no senator would introduce the bill. 
Instead, the House authorized an investigation of Alaska exploitationw 
Beginning as one of the monopoly inquiries characteristic of the "trust- 
busting" era, the investigation speedily widened into a battle between 
those who believed in unhindered private exploitation, led by Secre- 
tary of Interior Ballinger, and those who believed in the conservation 
of natural resources, led by Chief Forester Pinchot. The resulting 


Struggle resounded in the press, brought Alaska to the attention of the 
whole United States, and filled the Taft administration with scandals. 
After the mid-term elections. Congress in 1912 by the Organic Act, 
seen through both houses by Alaska Delegate James Wickersham, 
gave the Territory a local legislature. The powers of this legislature 
were severely limited in an attempt to protect the infant Territory 
from unscrupulous corporations, and infant industries from unscrupu- 
lous politicians. But the people of Alaska had at least won the begin- 
ning of a democratic government. 

During the years immediately following the Organic Act, Alaska 
suffered a series of purely physical upheavals. In the summer of 1912 
Mt. Katmai exploded, covering near-by regions with layers of volcanic 
dust, desolating Kodiak Island, and creating the Valley of Ten Thou- 
sand Smokes. Soon after, an earthquake shook Fairbanks, and in the 
fall of 1913 Nome was almost destroyed by a hurricane. 

The government-built Alaska Railroad was authorized by Congress 
in 1914, and in July, 1923, President Harding, the first president of 
the United States to visit Alaska during his term of office, drove the 
golden spike at Tanana Bridge that marked the opening of the Hne. 

Meanwhile, the white population of Alaska had undergone rapid 
shifts. In 1897-8 the town of Skagway was created overnight, and 
soon had a population of 15,000. In 1899-1900 gold-mad chechakhos 
were dumped by the thousands on Nome beach. There had been only 
about 4,000 white Alaska residents in 1890, but by 1900 they had 
increased to about 30,500. Gold was discovered near Fairbanks in 
1902, in the Iditarod district in 1908, and in the Ruby area in 1907-10. 
Each of these new discoveries brought new residents, and in 1910 the 
white population reached the high-water mark of 36,400. Meanwhile 
another source of Alaska wealth — salmon fishing — had increased. In 
1899 the number of cases of salmon packed in Alaska first crossed the 
million mark, and thereafter increased year by year to almost two and 
one-half millions in 1910. 

In the following decade, Alaska began to cast off its boom char- 
acter and to build more solidly on its natural resources. Although the 
Territory lost nearly 10,000 white residents between 1910 and 1920 — 
the white population in 1920 dropping to 27,883 — more salmon were 
packed year by year, the seal herd on the Pribilofs, approaching 
extinction in 1910, began to increase after the Federal government took 
it over, and pelagic sealing was stopped. The application of modern 


methods to mining put the extraction of minerals from the earth on 
a sound, predictable basis. The war years, after some distress, resulted 
in an expansion of all Alaska undertakings. 

Socially and culturally the life of Alaskans, both white and Native, 
reflected this transition from a boom Alaska to a slower but surer 
rate of development. Fraternal organizations, including the Arctic 
Brotherhood, the Pioneers of Alaska, the Pioneer Women of Alaska, 
and the Arctic Native Brotherhood, as well as fraternal orders com- 
mon to Alaska and the United States, grew and flourished. The 
cornerstone of the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, 
later to become the University of Alaska, was laid on July 4, 1915, 
and the college issued its first bulletin in 1922, and its first catalogue 
and its student newspaper, Farthest North Collegian, in 1923. Alaska 
presses began to issue books and magazines in respectable numbers, 
all towns of any size had at least one newspaper, public libraries were 
established, the system of grade and high schools was extended, and the 
airplane and the radio began to revolutionize transportation and dissi- 
pate provincialism. 

With the election of President Harding in 1920, the Federal policy 
toward Alaska changed. Secretary of the Interior Fall, in February 
1922, explained that the administration did not favor government 
operation of railroads in Alaska or anywhere else, and pled, "Help 
us liberalize the laws and open up Alaska that the boys back from 
the War can do what their forefathers did in California in 1849. . . . 
Oil has been flowing into the Arctic Ocean at Cape Fleming for years, 
perhaps centuries. What is believed to be one of the greatest oil fields 
in the world is in the Arctic near the Aleutian Islands." 

Hints of corruption in the Harding administration cast consider- 
able suspicion as to the disinterestedness of Secretary Fall's desire to 
exploit Alaska oil, and during the summer of 1923 Harding made a 
tour across the United States and to Alaska, in an effort to reawaken 
popular confidence in his administration. He announced that upon 
his return from Alaska he would decide whether "to call on Congress 
for further appropriations to open up the Territory or to throw open 
the resources of the country to private development." After his visit 
to the Territory, he surprised iiis associates and the public by announc- 
ing a policy of thoroughgoing conservation. He called for large appro- 
priations for agriculture and roads, for conservation of timber, fish, 
and other natural resources, and for the continuance of government 


operation of the Alaska Railroad. We must, he said, "regard life in 
lovely, wonderful Alaska as an end and not a means," and reject 
the policy of "looting Alaska as the possibility of profit arises," and 
of "turning Alaska over to the exploiters." Harding died a week after 
his Seattle address, and his death and the Teapot Dome scandal so 
occupied the public mind that what Harding had said about Alaska 
attracted little attention. 

Only a year later the Department of the Interior was again com- 
plaining that the Alaska Railroad was not "a financial success." In 
his message to Congress in 1925 President Coolidge pointed out that 
the cost of administering the Territory was "so far out of proportion 
to the number of inhabitants as to indicate cause for thorough investi- 
gation." The administration of Alaska was accordingly centralized in 
1927, when the three departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and 
Interior each appointed an administrative officer to reside in Alaska, 
with authority to decide on Alaska matters without referring to 
Washington. The President was given authority to transfer any bureau 
function from one department to another by executive order. This 
reduced friction among governmental agencies, and at the same time 
greatly reduced the publicity given to Alaska affairs in the United 
States. Meanwhile, the Alaska Legislature, whose first act had been to 
legalize woman suffrage in 1913, passed a series of liberal social, labor, 
and conservation measures, showing that the Alaskans, even if they did 
not possess statehood, were capable of wisely administering their vast 
Territory. The census figures of 1930 showed a small but apparently 
permanent growth in white residents; and the population increase 
among Natives, of over 3,000 in the decade, indicated that at last 
the Natives were beginning to win their long battle against poverty 
and disease. Exports to Alaska, imports from Alaska, and the pro- 
duction of gold, all showed growth from 1922 to 1938. New farm 
lands were opened up, and permanent agricultural residents settled 
on the Kenai Peninsula and in Matanuska Valley. A threatened en- 
croachment of Japanese fishing vessels in Alaska waters ceased in 
1938, when Alaska fishermen answered the question "Are salmon 
American citizens?" in the affirmative by announcing the purchase of 
high-powered rifles and ammunition to protect fish citizenship. A new 
industry — the tourist trade — grew apace, and some 35,000 visitors 
traveled to Alaska every summer. In the rush of visitors to the last 


frontier the Netv Yor/{ Times could urge good-naturedly, "Beyond the 
mountains some mystery should be left, unprofancd by motor car, 
glimpsed by plane perhaps from afar, but penetrable only afoot or in 
the saddle, a sanctuary for wilderness lovers of the years to come." 








Population — The Whites — The Natives — Labor 

THE POPULATION of Alaska on October i, 1929, according to 
the Fifteenth (1930) Census, was 59,278. This was the most complete 
census of the Territory ever made. The first enumeration under 
United States rule was made in 1880 by Ivan Petrof, who undertook 
not only the tabulation of the population but "an account of the occu- 
pations, modes of subsistence of the people, their dietary, dress, etc., 
indicating a proportional consumption of domestic and imported 
articles; their religious and educational institutions, with all statistical 
information relative thereto which might be available, together with 
such matters of economical and social importance" as seemed neces- 
sary. Districts that Petrof could not cover in person were reported 
by priests and local observers. Similarly, in 1890 estimates of the 
population of all areas that could not be canvassed personally were 
based upon local records and personal knowledge of missionary priests. 
Some of the difficulties in taking the Alaska census of 1900 have 
been related by one of the enumerators, Guy M. Stocklager. The 



short trip of ninety miles from Nome to Golovnin Bay alone took two 
weeks. Ihcre were five portages, "and at each portage we were forced 
to make two or three tri})s to get our outfit on the top of the moun- 
tains, but going down on the other side one trip was generally all 
we wanted, as in nine cases out of ten we would land in a bunch 
of willows at the bottom, sled overturned, dogs fighting, and the 
other two boys swearing." "Alaska is the worst country in the world 
for downright swearing," painedly observed Stocklager, relating that 
he encountered a pious Dutchman who had solved the problem by 
naming his dogs with familiar four-letter-words, enabling him to 
"mush" all winter without oiTending his conscience. The chief diffi- 
culty in taking the census of the whites was enumerating the men 
on the trail. "Unless one is personally acquainted with them they 
seldom speak, since they are, as a rule, in bad humor and hate to be 
detained on any account." One sourdough living up Fish River with 
an Eskimo woman threatened to bore Stocklager full of holes if he 
listed them as man and wife — he had a wife in the States and thought 
she would see their names appearing in the Twelfth Census. 

Stocklager compromised in such cases by calling Eskimo women 
"housekeepers." In the face of many obstacles, each succeeding enum- 
eration has been more nearly complete and accurate. The 1940 census 
will be undertaken in 1939, in view of the length and difficulty of 
the task. 

In 1890 the Native population was 23,531, the white population 
only 4,298. The Native population has remained relatively stationary, 
increasing to 29,536 in 1900, declining to 25,331 in 1910, then in- 
creasing to 26,558 in 1920 and to 29,983 in 1930. The white popu- 
lation, on the other hand, has fluctuated greatly. From a low of 
4,298 in 1890 it increased during the gold-rush era to 30,493 in 1900 
and 36,400 in 1910. By 1920, however, the white population had 
declined to 27,883. It rose slightly (28,640) in 1930, and by 1938 prob- 
ably had risen again to more than 30,000. The population other than 
Native or white (Negro and the so-called yellow races) almost exactly 
equaled the white population in 1890 (4,223), but has since declined 
to a negligible number (655). The 655 in 1930 included 278 Japanese, 
164 Filipinos, 136 Negroes, 29 Mexicans, 26 Chinese, 11 Hawaiians, 
and II Koreans. The census does not take into account, of course, the 
large numbers of people who visit Alaska each year in the summer 
season, a number conservatively estimated at 35,000 yearly. 


The gross area of Alaska is 586,400 square miles, the total popula- 
tion 59,278. It is evident, therefore, that Alaskans have a great deal 
of room to move about in. About a third of the population is con- 
centrated in the Panhandle, or southeastern Alaska, and four of the 
seven towns having a population of 1,000 or over in 1930 were located 
there — Juneau (pop.4,043), Ketchikan (pop.3,796), Petersburg (pop. 
1,259), and Sitka (pop. 1,056). The total population of southeastern 
Alaska (First Judicial District) was 19,304 in 1930. 

The least populous section is in the Second Judicial District (north- 
western Alaska), with only 10,127 persons, or 17 percent of the popu- 
lation of the Territory. Nome (pop. 1,213) was the only town of this 
area that had a population of more than 1,000. The rest lived in 
small villages, the largest of which had only a few hundred persons. 

The Third District, with 16,309 persons, or 27 percent of the Terri- 
tory's population, had only one town of more than 1,000 population — 
Anchorage (pop. 2,277). The Fourth District, with 13,538 population, 
had 23 percent of the Territory's total and also only one town of 
more than 1,000 — Fairbanks (pop. 2,101). 

The population was about evenly divided in 1930 between Natives 
(29,983 or 50.6 percent of the total) and whites (28,640 or 48.3 percent). 
There were about 152 males to each 100 females for all classes. This 
disparity was due to the large proportion of males among the whites 
— 228 males to each 100 females. The Native population was about 
evenly divided between males (15,359) ^^^ females (14,624). 


Alaska is like the rest of the United States in the extent to which 
its inhabitants owe their vigor to many foreign strains. Of the 28,640 
white people in Alaska in 1930, only 10,990 were born in the United 
States, of American parents. Either the mother or father, or both, of 
7,470 were foreign born. 10,180 were themselves born in foreign lands, 
but 6,359 of these were naturalized citizens, and 1,974 ^^^ taken out 
their first papers. Residents of Alaska who were in 1930 either immi- 
grants or the children of immigrants totaled 17,650. Unlike the great 
industrial areas of eastern United States, Alaska drew most of its 
foreign white stock not from central and southern Europe, but from 
northern countries — Norway, Sweden, Canada, Germany, England, 
Finland. Other countries contributed negligible amounts to the 


foreign white stock of Alaska. Over a third of this group (35.4 
percent) are Alaskans of long standing, having moved to Alaska in 
1900 or before. Approximately another third immigrated in the gold- 
rush days between 1901 and 1910, and only ten percent between 191 1 
and 1914, the number diminishing thereafter. The large part that 
people of northern Europe have had in building Alaska is strikingly 
illustrated in the number of Norwegians in Ketchikan, Alaska's 
second largest city (population 3,796). Of the 1,039 foreign-born white 
residents of Ketchikan in 1930, 550 were born in Norway and 277 
more were of Norwegian stock. 

About 70 percent of Alaska residents who were United States 
citizens at birth were born in Alaska. About 0.4 percent were born in 
other outlying United States possessions. Most of the rest were born 
in the United States. Of these, 5.2 percent were born in the State of 
Washington. The rest were natives of California, Minnesota, Oregon, 
Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, 
and Missouri. Natives of other states were less than one percent for 
each state represented. 


The Native Alaskans may be divided roughly into four groups, 
inhabiting four geographic areas: the Indians of southeastern Alaska, 
the Indians of the Interior or Athapascans, the Aleuts, and the 

The only original tribe of the southeast is the greatest in number — 
the Tlingit Indians who in 1930 numbered 4,462 and who inhabit 
all southeastern Alaska except Annette Island and the south end of 
Prince of Wales Island. Annette Island is the adopted home of 
Tsimshian Indians from British Columbia who settled the island in 
1887, led by the missionary, William Duncan. Only 588 Haida Indians, 
members of a great tribe of British Columbia, are found in American 
territory, on the south end of Prince of Wales Island. 

The Athapascan (or Tinneh) Indians, numbering 4,935 in 1930, 
inhabit the south coast and the Interior from Cook Inlet on the west 
to the Canadian border on the east, and north to the watersheds of 
the Yukon and the Arctic Ocean. 

The Aleuts, related to the Eskimos but distinct from them in 
language and customs, are grouped for census purposes with the 
Eskimos and arc estimated as about 4,000 in number. They inhabit the 


Aleutian Islands, the islands along the Alaska Peninsula, and parts of 
the Peninsula itself. 

The Eskimos number about 15,000 (together with their neighbors 
the Aleuts, 19,028 in 1930), live along the coast of the Arctic Ocean 
and Bering Sea, and have penetrated inland by way of the Yukon and 
Kuskokwim rivers. 

There is much interbreeding between whites and Natives, the 
percentage of mixed blood having increased from 7.2 percent of all 
Native inhabitants in 1890 to 26.1 percent in 1930. The term "Indian" 
includes full-blooded Indians and those of mixed Indian and other 

The first white men to encounter Native Alaskans were the Russian 
sailors of Bering's expedition of 1741. News of the wealth of the 
"Great Land" soon reached the Russians and the desire for furs seized 
Russian traders like a fever. They pushed from island to island of the 
Aleutian chain, leaving behind them a bloody trail of murder, rape, 
and slavery, almost exterminating the Aleuts and breaking the health 
and spirit of those who survived. With the merging of several fur- 
trading companies in 1799 into the royal monopoly called the Russian 
America Company, the Aleuts were forced into semi-slavery as sea- 
otter hunters — both the hunters and the hunted decreasing rapidly in 
the process. The Eskimos, engaged largely in hunting fur animals on 
land, were treated somewhat better by the Russians, who reaUzed 
that interference with their mode of living would decrease the flow of 
furs from this roving, freedom-loving people. 

The Tlingit Indians, a proud people and excellent warriors, refused 
to be enslaved and answered attack with attack, defeating the Russians 
again and again with primitive weapons. The Russians accordingly 
equipped whole hunting expeditions with Aleuts, sailing with these 
Native crews as far south as the Santa Barbara Islands off the coast 
of California and as far west as Japan and Kamchatka. 

From 1867 to 1890, under United States control, little was done 
for the Natives. A reaction toward a humane policy developed about 
1884 when the Bureau of Education began its work in Alaska, and 
such honest and disinterested men as Dr. Sheldon Jackson, who intro- 
duced reindeer among the Eskimos and founded Native schools, 
and William Duncan, who brought the Tsimshians to Metlakatla 
and established a Native cooperative village, began their energetic and 


intelligent efforts. Today some one hundred schools are maintained 
for Natives. 

In most areas of Alaska a system of Native schools has been 
maintained parallel to the schools for white children — Native schools 
and so-called Territorial or white schools existing side by side. 

The Indian Service is increasingly adapting its educational program 
to the needs of the Natives. Aside from one or two areas where the 
mixed population is sufficiently large to permit the operation of local 
high schools, Alaska communities are so small as not to justify an 
educational program beyond the elementary grades. Several small 
orphanages at various points in Alaska have been closed, and today 
two vocational boarding schools constitute the sole public advanced 
vocational centers. One of these is at Wrangell in southeastern Alaska 
and the other at Eklutna on Cook Inlet. 

The problem of the health of the Natives is even more serious 
and pressing than that of their education. A study of mortality 
among the Native races of Alaska appearing in the public health 
reports of the United States Treasury Department for March 2, 1934 
shows that, although the white and Native populations of Alaska are 
nearly equal, during the period 1926-1930 deaths reported among the 
Native races were 2,767, among whites, 1,704; the largest death-rate 
occurring in the age group under 20. Later unpublished statistics 
emphasize the seriousness of the health situation among the Natives. 

The study referred to shows that among the native Indians and 
Eskimos tuberculosis far exceeded any other cause of death, with a 
death-rate of 655 per 100,000 for the whole Native population. In the 
southeastern division, where deaths were more completely reported, 
the rate was 888 per 100,000. The comparison between this rate and 
that of whites for the same areas is startling — the white rate for the 
whole territory was 56 in comparison with the Native rate of 655, 
and for the southeastern district 42 as compared with the Native rate 
of 888. There is even a suggestion of an increasing rate, particularly in 
southeastern Alaska. Tuberculosis caused 35 percent of all deaths 
among the Natives, a figure that does not vary greatly in the different 
divisions. Recent statistics compiled by the Territorial auditor show 
226 deaths reported from tuberculosis from January, 1936, to January, 
1937. This gives a tuberculosis death-rate of 753 per 100,000 among 
the Natives in 1936, a rate that is more than thirteen times that 
reported for the registration States for 1934. The eventual establish- 


ment of good health conditions among the Natives, however, can come 
only through the general improvement of their social and economic 

Considered unsentimentally, the Native is a human resource 
worthy of conservation not only for his own sake, but also for the 
welfare of the Territory. It is possible that under favorable conditions 
the Native might flourish and multiply. In such an event, the problem 
of seasonal industries would be lessened, and at the same time more 
of the wealth created by these industries would remain in the Terri- 
tory. The attainment of economic independence by the Natives, and 
consequent well-being, is conditional upon several factors in relation 
to which the Federal government must continue to play a most im- 
portant part, including the solving of problems of health, education, 
and social welfare, as well as economic aid and guidance. 

Because of the restriction of Native activities which accompanied 
the reservation policy among the Indians of the United States, the 
Natives of Alaska, with the exception of the transplanted colony of 
Metlakatla, have steadfastly opposed the development of reservations 
as racial discrimination. Yet in southeastern Alaska the Metlakatlans 
with reserved fishing rights are in a superior economic position to 
similar villages of Haida and Tlingit Indians which are also de- 
pendent upon fishing. In the one case, the Natives are protected from 
white competition; in the others, they must compete. As a result, it is 
becoming evident to these southeastern Indians that some form of 
reserved area would be a reliable guarantee of the minimum rights 
essential to economic self-support. 

Much of the area inhabited by the Indians and Eskimos of the 
Interior and northern Alaska is adaptable primarily to trapping and 
reindeer herding. It may be found advisable to reserve certain areas 
for trapping exclusively by Natives similar to the area now surround- 
ing the village of Tetlin. With the complete taking over of the 
reindeer service by the Office of Indian Affairs and the elimination of 
white commercial interests, it becomes important for education to 
make provision for the training of Eskimo herdsmen, for the de- 
velopment of individuals sufficiently familiar with white economic 
enterprise to make a success of the existing Native stores, and for 
the necessary adaptation of Native economy to its contact with white 
economy. Each year a greater number of Eskimo young people are 


seeking advanced vocational training. The opportunity for such train- 
ing will probably soon be established in the Eskimo area. 

Experimental work in the revival and adaptation of Native handi- 
crafts shows that a substantial market may be developed under 
careful guidance. The school at Nome has a successful adult skin- 
sewing project among fifty women, which has increased the popular- 
ity of the Eskimo parka and indicates the possibility of developing 
a favorable market for this garment in other parts of Alaska and in 
parts of the United States where winter sports have become popular. 
A revival of fine ivory carving may contribute to the cash income of 
the Eskimos. In southern Alaska what has been accomplished by a 
revival and adaptation of wood carving and silver work is prophetic 
of what may be done with the southeastern Indian crafts. The Indian 
Office has recently appointed a supervisor of craft work for the entire 


The wage-earning class is an unusually large portion of the popu- 
lation of Alaska, where economic circumstances have not favored the 
development of a large middle group of small proprietors, professional 
workers, and salaried employees. Alaskans gain their living largely in 
fishing and canning, mining, fur trapping and breeding, transporta- 
tion, and farming. Increasing numbers are being drawn into the 
domestic and personal services which cater to the large tourist trade. 

In the Alaska economy, during the short summer period, activities 
are concentrated on fishing, placer mining, and farming. To this is 
added the seasonal activity created by the tourist and the sportsman. 
A large proportion of Alaska people thus find themselves exceed- 
ingly busy in the summer and relatively unoccupied the rest of the 
year, the only exception being the trapping of fur which furnishes 
employment for about 8,000 people during the winter months. 

Many Alaskans are thus confronted with the problem of earning 
enough in the summer months to suffice for the whole year. This is 
strikingly illustrated by the most important industry — fishing. Actual 
salmon fishing lasts only about two months, but the work of pre- 
paring for and closing operations gives considerable employment for 
two months more. Many of the canning companies send their own 
vessels from Seattle or San Francisco to their canneries loaded with 
most of the supplies, including food, needed for the workmen and 


the plant for the entire season. Vessels also convey most of the cannery 
workers, recruited in the Pacific Coast cities, to the cannery and bring 
them back at the close of the season. In 1936, 30,383 workers were 
employed in fishing, and about forty percent of these were imported 
workers. The number of persons employed in the commercial fish- 
eries of Alaska in 1937 was 30,331. Of these, 17,398 were whites, 6,600 
Natives, 3,908 Filipinos, 967 Japanese, 634 Mexicans, 556 Chinese, and 
268 miscellaneous. 

The importing of labor for the salmon-canning industry has been 
necessary because of the sparse population in the vicinity of the can- 
neries. Up to a very few years ago it was engaged for the most part 
in San Francisco. A contracting system was employed, and since 
preference was given to Mexicans, Filipinos, and Chinese, who were 
usually unfamiliar with the English language and the meaning of 
the contracts they signed, such serious abuses arose that the State of 
CaHfornia was forced to intervene to protect the interests of these 
workers. Under the NRA code the contract-labor system was abolished. 

From time to time protests are made by Natives against the 
importation each year of large numbers of Orientals and other workers 
from the States to the salmon canneries during the operating season. 
Natives affirm that Alaska Indians are fully qualified to perform the 
labor required, but that they have been discriminated against in the 
matter of employment in the canneries. Quite naturally, they feel that 
as residents of the Territory for many generations they should be 
given preference over residents of the States who come to Alaska 
only for the salmon-canning season. As the original inhabitants of 
the Territory they also believe they have a prior claim on the fish 
and other natural resources there. The development of industrial 
processing in Alaska in such a way that local labor would be given 
employment the year around, instead of only a few months during 
the active salmon-fishing season, would benefit the Territory as a 
whole and foster a more rapid increase in the population there. 

Mining is second to fishing in the industrial activities of the 
Territory. A characteristic of mining, especially of placer mining, is 
that much of it occurs where the soil is so frozen that winter mining 
is difficult. Means have been found which somewhat minimize this 
obstacle to year-round operations; but mining still remains highly 
seasonal in these areas, and miners drift from the placers to the towns 
to spend the winter in idleness, because there are no opportunities 


for winter employment. Another characteristic of placer mining is 
that sooner or later the placer becomes exhausted. As a result, the 
placer community often ultimately becomes a ghost town. The miner 
must seek employment at some other unexhausted placer — some- 
times at a great distance — or else enter some other form of employ- 
ment, which is difficult because of the limited opportunities. These 
conditions tend to make a portion of the mining population quasi- 
nomadic, without permanent abode. In addition, the demand for 
metals is tied up so closely with world events and world prices that 
the operation of the mines tends to be irregular. As the mines are 
often located in more or less isolated communities, the workers are 
peculiarly dependent on a particular mine for employment. These 
circumstances again militate against the establishment of permanent 
communities with well-developed social activities. 

The seasonal factors affecting Alaska's two most important indus- 
tries definitely stand in the way of an increased permanent popula- 
tion. They are likewise the cause of considerable wages and profits 
leaving the Territory, to be spent on goods or improvements in com- 
munities "Outside." They explain the constant drain from the Terri- 
tory of capital and of people who might otherwise become permanent 
citizens. Such conditions tend to perpetuate the attitude that Alaska 
is a land for exploitation only. 

The wood-pulp industry envisioned for southeastern Alaska holds 
the prospect of a year-round industry employing a quota of permanent 
employees, while affording off-season employment to some now en- 
gaged in the fisheries. 

Information on wage levels is very limited, but does not indicate 
that money earnings are out of line with those received in the States. 
Still less information is to be had regarding "real" wages, as there 
are no available data, as to prices and cost of living, sufficiendy com- 
prehensive to justify authoritative conclusions. 

Violent labor struggles occurred in the early twentieth century in 
connection with railroad construction and mining. Today labor organ- 
ization is quite general. The Alaska Fishermen's Union is well estab- 
lished, as are units of the International Seaman's Union and certain 
groups of railroad employees and Federal employees. Unionization is 
less general in the mining industry. Of recent years, organization has 
extended to the canning industry in certain sections by the United 
Cannery, Agricultural, and Packinghouse Workers, affiliated with 


the Congress of Industrial Organizations. A central labor council in 
Cordova, chartered by the American Federation of Labor in April, 
1937, includes locals of the International Longshoremen's Associa- 
tion and of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees' International Alli- 
ance, as well as two directly affiliated American Federation of Labor 
unions (canning workers and clam diggers) and a local union of 
transport workers. Among the building trades, Alaska is included 
within the field of activity of at least one international union — the 
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. The weekly Alaska 
Labor Dispatch is published in Juneau. 

The Territory has a long record in the field of labor legislation. 
It was the first jurisdiction in the United States to provide for old- 
age pensions (1915); it was among the very first to enact a workmen's 
accident and compensation law (1915) and to establish a maximum 
eight-hour workday for underground miners and associated employ- 
ments (1913). In 1913 it established the office of Territorial Mine 
Inspector, and in 1917 a code of mining regulations which provided, 
among other things, for the protection of dangerous machines and 
equipment and the reporting of accidents, and prohibited the under- 
ground employment of boys under 16. In 1919 a code of sanitary and 
safety regulations was made for factories, canneries, and other estab- 
lishments, covering cleanliness, drinking water, toilet facilities, and 
temperature. Other Territorial labor laws have established an eight- 
hour day on public works (1913); sought to protect employees against 
exploitation by company stores and boarding houses (1913); pro- 
hibited the bringing in of workers under false representations (1913); 
provided for a system of arbitration in labor disputes (1913); pro- 
hibited the payment of wages in non-negotiable paper, and required 
the payment of wages at least monthly and within fifteen days after 
the end of the month (1923); placed a fee of S500 per year on 
private employment agencies (1919); and required the payment of 
prevailing wages on public works (1931). 

In addition to the above laws, which were enacted through local 
initiative, the Territorial Legislature has been prompt in accepting 
the provisions of recent Federal legislation which required approval 
of the Territory in order to be eflective within its jurisdiction. Thus 
in 1937 Alaska, in conformity with the Social Security Act, enacted 
laws establishing an unemployment-insurance system and a system 
of maternity and child welfare, as well as accepting the provisions 


of the Social Security Act relating to the public health. At the same 
time, it accepted the provisions of the Wagner-Peyser Act regarding 
public employment offices, and established a Department of Public 
Welfare for the Territory. 

The Native population presents certain special labor problems. In 
part, the Natives still follow the rather primitive occupations of hunt- 
ing and fishing and to that extent are self-sufficient in their economy. 
Considerable numbers of Natives, however, have identified themselves 
with more or less settled industry so far as to become part of the 
labor market, and this proportion will no doubt increase in the future. 
The Natives have amply demonstrated their ability to participate in 
the major industrial activities of the Territory. In 1936, 6,958 Natives 
found employment in the fisheries industries. Metlakatla and Klawak 
have for many years operated Native-owned canneries. 

Under the Indian Reorganization Act, the Office of Indian Aflfairs 
has under consideration a number of reserves calculated to stabilize the 
Native economy, and recommending to the secretary of the interior 
that large areas of water, as well as land, be set apart for the Indians 
as fisheries reserves, and that loans be made to them for salmon 
canneries within these reserves. This has particular reference to south- 
eastern Alaska and Cook Inlet, and may be extended to western and 
northwestern Alaska. If these plans work out successfully, the eco- 
nomic condition of the Alaska Natives should be greatly improved, 
and the Federal government should be released from the expenditure 
of large sums of money to relieve destitution among the Natives. 

Substantial numbers of Natives are engaged in the various mining 
and logging operations, and a considerable part of the annual Alaska 
fur catch comes from trap lines operated by them. The Eskimos have 
shown their ability in the reindeer industry, and under the Reindeer 
Act of 1937 the sum of $2,000,000 was authorized for appropriations 
to return the reindeer to the Natives. As yet, however, no appropria- 
tion has been made for the purchase. Other industrial, commercial, 
and even professional enterprises have representatives from the Native 
groups. The solution of the problem of manning Alaska industries 
with permanent residents would greatly help in the economic re- 
habilitation of the Native population. 


ALTHOUGH ALASKA was created a Territory by the Organic 
Act of 1912, fifty-two Federal agencies still have direct jurisdiction in 
Alaska affairs. The social welfare of Alaskans, the administration of 
justice, public order, public health, care of the insane, medical and 
educational programs for the Natives, standards of employment and 
conditions of labor — all these basic duties of government remain 
primarily the concern of Federal agencies centered in Washington, 
D.C. The administration of the natural resources — minerals, forests, 
public lands, aquatic resources, wild life — have been kept Federal 
prerogatives. The control of these basic resources gives the Federal 
government almost unlimited authority over the population and places 
a great responsibility upon it for the welfare of the citizens of the 

This control of Alaska extends to the officials who govern it 
internally. Both the governor and the secretary of Alaska are appointed 
by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent 
of the Senate, for four-year terms. The President also appoints four 
district judges, four district attorneys, and four United States mar- 
shals, one for each judicial division, for four-year terms each. The 
governor appoints a Board of Education for four years and a com- 



missioner of health for two years. Only members of the Territorial 
Legislature and the attorney general, treasurer, and auditor may be 
elected by the voters of Alaska: senators for four years, representa- 
tives for two, and the attorney general, treasurer, and auditor for 
four each. 

The Legislature consists of a Senate of eight members, two from 
each judicial division, and a House of Representatives of sixteen mem- 
bers, four from each judicial division. The Legislature convenes at 
the capitol at Juneau on the first Monday in January in odd-numbered 
years for a sixty-day session. Special sessions of not over fifteen days 
may be called by the governor. 

Alaska is represented in the House of Representatives of the 
United States by a delegate, elected for a term of two years. He has 
no vote in the House. 

Frequently, the only regular arm of government in remote settle- 
ments is the United States commissioner, appointed by the district 
judge. He is justice of the peace, probate judge, coroner, town clerk, 
recorder, jailer, and guardian of minors and the insane. He holds 
court and tries misdemeanor cases and all civil cases where the amount 
involved is not more than one thousand dollars. Though his formal 
education may be sketchy, and his knowledge of the law slight (com- 
missioners have been known to issue a divorce by the simple expedient 
of tearing up the marriage license and refunding the license fee), 
he is usually a shrewd dispenser of justice. 

Communities having 400 inhabitants may incorporate as a first- 
class city; communities with 50, as a second-class city. 

While Federal law charges the governor of Alaska with "the in- 
terests of the United States within the Territory," he has little control 
over most of the Federal activities, because in the main Federal 
agencies operating there take their direction from the parent organiza- 
tion. Except for the Alaska Road Commission, none of the bureaus 
of the Department of the Interior, other than the governor's own office, 
is subject to his jurisdiction. On the other hand, while the governor 
is granted wide powers under Territorial acts, these are so frequently 
shared with other locally chosen Territorial officials that the governor 
cannot be validly held responsible for administering tasks created by 
Territorial authority. Although an appointed and not an elected offi- 
cial, he is yet given a veto by Congress over Territorial legislation 


(even including items of appropriation bills) unless overridden by a 
two-thirds vote of the Territorial Legislature. 

The cry of "home rule" has been heard from residents of Alaska 
for a number of years. Exponents of statehood for Alaska point to its 
history for proof that a wide extension of democratic processes is 
possible in the Territory. They characterize the administration of 
Alaska by the War Department immediately after its purchase as 
"tyrannical and cruel," and of the succeeding administration by the 
Treasury Department as "weak and effeminate." Only after attempts 
of the Federal government to govern Alaska had been virtually aban- 
doned, claim the exponents of home rule, and miners began to or- 
ganize miners' meetings and passed local laws of self-government, 
did Alaska have, "for the first time since the American occupation, 
a government that gave real protection to anyone," Upon the organi- 
zation of the District of Alaska, however, these local governments 
were abrogated, and a governor appointed by the President who, 
according to the exponents of home rule, had no duties except "to 
draw his salary, present his annual report, and write a Thanksgiving- 
Day proclamation." Finally, those who urge statehood point to the 
fact that in 1912, when the District of Alaska was terminated and 
the Territory of Alaska was created, the new Territory had a popu- 
lation greater than that of nine states already admitted to the Union. 

Such, sketchily presented, are the arguments for a form of govern- 
ment for Alaska "conforming to American tradition and American 
ideals." Unfortunately for these brave words, advocates of statehood 
seem to link their proposal with a demand that the natural resources 
of the Territory be permitted to pass into the hands of private owners. 
It is quite true that reckless private exploitation of natural resources 
has been part of the "American tradition"; it is just as true that this 
policy, if not finally checked by the relatively recent one of conserva- 
tion of natural resources, would have ruined our West. With all the 
resulting administrative faults, the participation of Federal agencies 
in Alaska aflfairs insures the people of both Alaska and the United 
States the continuation of a wise policy of conservation. 

Alaska seems destined to remain in Territorial status for some 
time. Governor Troy has repeatedly recommended, however, the 
establishment of a full Territorial form of government. Such a gov- 
ernment would have the right to determine its own structural organi- 
zation, including its central administrative plan. 


Fish and Aquatic Animals — Minerals — Fur — Reindeer — Agricul- 
ture — Forests. 

ALASKA is enormously wealthy in natural resources — fish and 
aquatic animals, minerals, forests, waters, farming and grazing lands, 
and wild life. But natural resources are exhaustible, and the dangers 
of the reckless exploitation of Alaska's natural wealth since its pur- 
chase in 1867 began to be realized in the early years of the present 
century. Coal lands were withdrawn from private entry in 1906, oil 
lands in 1910, and the Tongass and Chugach National forests were 
created in 1909. At the same time a number of acts of Congress were 
passed to regulate the fishing industry. Since that time the natural 
resources, Federally owned, have also been Federally controlled and 
-regulated under a policy of conservation, hotly disputed at the time 
it was initiated, but today generally accepted. Leasing for development 
purposes has superseded the older policy of outright sale. Lands for 
homesteads, industrial sites, and certain other forms of occupancy, 
and for mining purposes exclusive of coal or oil can be patented 
under appropriate laws. 




The exploitation of the Alaska fishery resources may be said to 
have begun in 1878, eleven years after the purchase of the Territory 
from Russia, when the salmon-canning industry was established. 
Previously there had been some salting of salmon and cod by Amer- 
icans and Russians. Salmon, herring, halibut, whitefish, cod, and many 
other fish formed one of the most important food supplies for the 
Natives from prehistoric times. Previous to the spectacular develop- 
ment of the salmon-canning industry, however, the inroads made on 
this natural resource must have been inconsequential. Thus the 
fisheries of the Territory were in practically a virgin state when 
Alaska was acquired. 

The fur-bearing aquatic mammals had been ruthlessly exploited 
during the period of Russian occupancy and under private American 
lease, until 1912, when they came under Federal control. 

The American whaling fleet moved north into Alaska waters about 
1840. Its operations, chiefly in Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean, were 
intensive but short-lived. The discovery of petroleum in the United 
States and the substitution of steel for whalebone by 1871 made whal- 
ing in distant waters unprofitable. The industry declined in impor- 
tance before there was any apparent diminution of whales in Alaska 

Today the Alaska fisheries are extremely productive. The fur-seal 
herd is likewise in a satisfactory condition. Although all killing of 
sea otters has been prohibited in Territorial waters and on the ad- 
jacent high seas since 191 1, this species is still very rare along much 
of the coasdine it formerly inhabited. WhaUng has been carried on 
in a very limited way with modern methods for many years. This 
activity apparently has not materially reduced their number, and the 
protection now given by international agreement assures their per- 
petuation. The protection now afforded other aquatic mammals also, 
if continued, will prevent their destruction. 

Salmon. In the early years of salmon canning the catch for com- 
mercial use was small, and the runs were able to withstand the drain 
without evident depletion, in spite of stream barricades and other im- 
proper and destructive fishing devices. The Congress of 1888-9 recog- 
nized the potential danger of exhausting the salmon runs and 


passed legislation limiting the methods of fishing in the Territory. 
Subsequent investigations revealed the complexity of the life histories 
of the various species of salmon and more than ever emphasized the 
necessity for legislative protection. A new Alaska fishery law was 
enacted on June 26, 1906, giving greater protection to salmon and 
other food fish. During the rapid growth of the salmon-canning in- 
dustry from 1914-18, when war conditions demanded a maximum 
production of all foodstuffs, the Bureau of Fisheries enforced the in- 
adequate fisheries laws of Alaska with limited personnel and facilities 
for inspection. Fish-cultural work had been undertaken to relieve 
the strain placed on the salmon runs by the commercial fishery, but 
the propagation of salmon could not keep pace with the growth of the 
industry. It was in this era of rapid expansion that the interest of 
salmon packers centered upon the great runs of pink salmon in the 
sheltered waters of southeastern Alaska. From 1910-18 the pack of 
canned salmon there increased more than 200 percent, and fear was 
expressed for the future of the industry. The catch greatly decreased 
after 1918. Diminished catches and inadequate escapements of salmon 
to the spawning grounds were accompanied by more intensified opera- 
tions. Such obvious steady destruction of the Territory's most valu- 
able natural resource could not be retarded under the fishery laws 
then in force. There was also a real scarcity of salmon in other parts 
of the Territory at the time, similarly attributed to overfishing. Most 
of the packers, however, held, in the face of these facts, that the 
exhaustion of the salmon fisheries was an impossibility and vigorously 
opposed all efforts to curtail the fishery. 

In 1921 it began to be realized that the condition of the salmon 
fisheries of Alaska was precarious. Overfishing for many years had 
caused serious depletion. In 1922, as a temporary expedient, the Presi- 
dent established by executive order certain fishery reservations and 
placed them under the administrative control of the secretary of com- 
merce, acting through the commissioner of fisheries. The first real 
authority for the regulation of the Alaska fisheries was conferred upon 
the secretary of commerce by the White law of June 6, 1924. Enact- 
ment of this law, which virtually gives the secretary authority to 
say when, where, and how fishing may be conducted in the Terri- 
tory, marked a turning point in the administration of the fisheries. 
From a state of declining abundance, the situation with respect to the 


salmon fisheries has been reversed, and after a period of gradual up- 
building this resource is now almost complete in its restoration. 

Throughout the administration of the Alaska fisheries, there has 
been a continuous conflict between the operators of mobile forms 
of fishing gear and those who use stationary apparatus. For a number 
of years an effort has been made to secure passage of legislation 
which would prohibit the construction and operation of all traps, 
weirs or pound nets, except herring pounds, limit the size of purse- 
seine boats in the salmon fishery, and restrict the length and depth 
of purse seines used in Alaska waters. This proposed legislation also 
would limit, and eventually entirely prohibit, seine fishing for salmon 
except by residents. Unfavorable reports have been submitted by the 
Department of Commerce on such proposed legislation, because such 
measures are not necessary to conserve the fisheries. Many believe that 
in some parts of Alaska traps are a suitable and economical method 
of capturing salmon, but are not proper in places where natural con- 
ditions are unfavorable. 

Beginning in 1930, and in every year since then, a number of 
Japanese floating canneries have been operated on the high seas ofl 
the Bering Sea coast of Alaska, and particularly in Bristol Bay. 
These cannery vessels range in size from 3,000 to 8,000 tons, and the 
fishing vessels vary from small motor boats to Diesel-powered trawlers 
of 400 tons. The announcement by the Japanese government in 1936 
that extensive studies would be made of the routes of migration and 
the availability of salmon on the high seas of Bristol Bay alarmed 
the American salmon packers, who have more than $20,000,000 in- 
vested in canning plants and equipment in that area. 

The predominance of salmon in the Alaska fisheries is shown by 
the fact that salmon products alone were valued at $916,262,896, from 
1880 to 1935, representing about 89 percent of the total fisheries output. 
Although fair quantities of salmon are sold fresh, frozen, and pickled, 
by far the largest part of the catch is used by the canning industry. 
From a small beginning in 1878, when two plants put up 8,159 cases 
of canned salmon, the industry increased until a maximum of 156 
canneries were operated in 1929 and packed 5,370,159 cases, containing 
48 one-pound cans to the case, or the equivalent thereof. The pack in 
1929 was slightly larger than the average annual pack for the previous 
five-year period. The all-time record output was in 1936, when 8,437,- 
603 cases were produced. The number of canneries operated in that 


year was 117, thus indicaiin>; a icndcncy toward more economical 
and ellicicnt operation through consoHdation of eflort. About 6,670,000 
cases were packed in 1937, valued at over $44,000,000. Ahhough a 
few hand canneries are still engaged in the business, most plants are 
equipped throughout with modern machinery capable of large-scale 

Cod. The history of the Pacific cod fishery records the struggle of a 
few individuals and companies against the long-established Atlantic 
Coast fishery which, backed by wealth and a vast supply of raw 
product, has long commanded the American market. In the North 
Pacific the primary question has been finding a market for the catch; 
a greater catch could be made if a market were available for it. 

The first vessel to visit waters off the Alaska coast for cod was the 
schooner Alert, from San Francisco, in 1864; and in 1882 the regular 
Bering Sea cod fishery was started. In nearly every year since, 
schooners have operated on the Bering Sea banks, and for a number 
of years shore stations also were operated for winter fishery, chiefly 
along the south coast of the Alaska Peninsula and in the adjacent 
islands. At present the operations from shore are on a very small scale, 
by fishermen working either individually or in partnership, chiefly in 
the Shumagin Islands region. The cod fishery has been carried on 
largely from vessels operating on the high seas of Bering Sea. The 
catches are salted and stowed in the hold, and when a full cargo is 
obtained the vessel returns to its home port in the States. Usually only 
one trip is made to the banks in a year. About $32,000 worth of cod 
was taken in 1937. 

There appears to have been no decline in this species in territorial 
or offshore waters of Alaska. Fear has been expressed by cod fisher- 
men in recent years, however, that extensive trawhng operations by 
Japanese vessels in Bering Sea might seriously impair the productivity 
of certain offshore banks. 

Herring. The first commercial use to which herring was put in 
Alaska was for oil and fertilizer. A plant was established on the site 
of an old whaling station at Killisnoo, on upper Chatham Strait, 
in 1882. This was the only herring reduction plant in Alaska until 
1919, but expansion was rapid after that year. Although a few barrels 
of herring were salted in various localities prior to 1900, the pickled- 
herring industry may be said to have begun about that time at Peters- 

The Great Land 


.T IS A COMMON American belief that Alaska is largely 
covered with ice and inhabited by Eskimos who live in ice houses and 
drink blubber. Alaska, the Great Land of the Aleuts, the Brobdingnag 
of Gulliver, does contain a great deal of ice — in its warmer regions. 
The glacier system of the Mt. St. Elias range is the largest ice field in 
the world outside the Polar caps. But this country also contains the 
longest chain of volcanoes in the world and the highest mountain in 
the world, measured from base to peak, and most of Alaska lies north 
of the glacier ice. Flowers and berries grow profusely in this country. 
Delphiniums are nine feet high, strawberries are two inches in 
diameter, and cabbages weigh fifty pounds. In Alaska the waters are 
more valuable than the land. Alaska streams are the spawning ground 
of the Pacific salmon, Alaska seas contain furs and foodstuffs, shrimp 
and whales. Lemuel Gulliver quite lost his perspective here, and it is 
not surprising that average American citizens have mistaken notions 
about the Territory. 

above: Forest Floor, Sitk^a 
below: "Alaska Cotton" 

above: Delphiniums Groiv High 
below: Near the Alas1{a Rciilroad 


' ^/ 





^^^ « ^'^''\'«F>' la^^KK i^^r^^ "Ik 

akovk: Crater o\ Mt. l-.di^ccumbc 
below: Tongass Forest in Winter 



below: Danes Glacier 


.^ » 

V-rt **.<*»• 




.iiih/{il tiotifis 


^^•^• ■aiigp " - 

abuvh: ^ii!isc'( I WW jioni II rLiti^cil 
below: Entrance to Sit/^u Harbor 

-^0- ■f^^- 

above: "Spawning Cycef(' by F. Lo Pmto 
below: "Glacier" by F. Lo Finto 

above: Polk^ Inlet 
below: Mt. McKinley 

above: fiiiDjifig Xciir Fiinhinil(.< 
below: .IhI{ Lci/{c and Mciidcnluill 

above: he (it) ill School, Sitkju 
below: .SV(/ Gulls 


burg. Operations were on a small scale until 1917, when the Bureau 
of Fisheries introduced into Alaska the Scotch method of curing her- 
ring. The resulting attractive pack, together with war prices, stimu- 
lated the industry. The catch of herring, which had never reached 
40,000,000 pounds before 1918, amounted to 180,000,000 pounds by 
1925. During 1937, twenty herring plants were operated, producing 
products valued at about $2,891,000. 

Halibut. There are records of halibut fishing in Alaska waters as 
early as 1879, by schooners operating from San Francisco. There was 
also some salting of halibut in the Territory in 1889, but this business 
did not attain importance until 1899. The first exploitation in Alaska 
was carried on by small schooners whose catches were shipped south 
on the regular freight steamers. The gold rush of 1898 provided this 
essential transportation link for the development of the fishery. 

With transportation to market assured, halibut fishing expanded, 
but at first it was confined to the inshore grounds, which were quite 
limited in extent. The local Alaska fleet was supplemented by the 
Puget Sound vessels seeking protected waters in which to operate 
during the winter months. A decreasing supply on the inshore banks 
and better mechanical equipment in the fishing fleet, together with 
improvement in the means of preservation, turned attention to deep- 
sea fishery, and an abundance of halibut was found on the banks from 
Forrester Island northward to the Gulf of Alaska. This fishery, unre- 
stricted, grew until depletion forced international cooperation to pro- 
tect it. 

A convention between the United States and Canada became effec- 
tive in 1924 and provided for a closed period of three months each 
year during which all halibut fishing should be prohibited. It also 
provided for an International Fisheries Commission, which was to 
make recommendations on the need for modification of the closed 
period, to study thoroughly the life history of the Pacific halibut, and 
make recommendations for the regulation of the fishery. This treaty 
has served as a precedent for international cooperative control of sea 
fisheries where such is necessary. Success has been achieved under this 
and two subsequent conventions, and restoration of the halibut fish- 
ery of the North Pacific now seems assured. The Alaska fleet landed 
in 1937 about 13,282,000 pounds of halibut valued at $931,629, and hali- 
but livers valued at $73,000. 


Clams, Crabs, and Shrimps. The clam industry, primarily in central 
Alaska, and the shrimp industry, in southeastern Alaska, have been 
upon a well-established basis since about 19 14, and there has been a 
marked development in the packing of crabs in both areas since 1931. 
In contrast with salmon operations, these industries arc largely non- 
seasonal and are therefore of special importance to the residents of 
the Territory. 

Miscellaneous Fisheries. Trout, sableflsh, rockfish, flounder, and ling 
cod are used commercially in limited quantities. They do not support 
an independent industry but are handled incidentally in connection 
with other branches of the fisheries. Some are used more or less ex- 
tensively in the feeding of foxes and other animals on fur farms. 

Besides their outstanding importance commercially, the fisheries of 
Alaska have a prominent place in the domestic economy — a consider- 
able amount is taken for local use, the quantity and value of which 
cannot easily be determined. Not only salmon, but whitefish, and 
other species that have had little or no place in the commercial indus- 
try are used extensively, so that the fisheries today, as in primitive 
times, are one of the primary, direct means of livelihood for many 
inhabitants of this sparsely settled region. 

Whales. Until after the turn of the nineteenth century, whaling ofl 
the Alaska coast, other than that participated in to a very limited 
extent by the Natives, was carried on chiefly by a San Francisco fleet. 
Of the production by Natives, only the whalebone and a small amount 
of oil entered into commerce. The first whaling station in Alaska to 
make use of all parts of the whale carcass was at Tyee in 1908. Prod- 
ucts of the shore stations since then have included fertilizer, as well as 
oil. Although whaling stations have been established from time to time 
at several places in Alaska, including small and short-lived operations 
on Cook Inlet and at Nome for beluga or white whales exclusively, 
there have never been more than four operated in any one year, and 
usually not more than two. Since 1922 no operations have been car- 
ried on in southeastern Alaska. The industry is now confined to the 
central and western districts: one station is operated at Port Hobron 
in the Kodiak area, and one at Akutan in the eastern Aleutians. 

Prior to 1936, whaling in Alaska waters was unrestricted. On May 
I, 1936, an act was passed to give efTcct to the convention concluded 
at Geneva on September 24, 1931, and subsequently ratified by the 


United States and twenty-five other countries for the regulation of 

Fur Seals. By the international agreement of July 7, 191 1, the taking 
of fur seals in the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea is prohibited, 
except under certain limited conditions by aborigines dwelling along 
the coast of North America; and the killing of seals on the Pribilof 
Islands, the chief place where they come ashore, is done by the United 
States government through the Bureau of Fisheries. 

As a result of curtailment of pelagic sealing, or the taking of seals 
at sea, and scientific management at the islands whereby surplus males 
of a certain age group are selected for killing, the fur-seal herd has 
been built up from approximately 130,000 animals in 1910 to over 
1,800,000 in 1937. During this period, upwards of 750,000 fur-seal 
skins have been taken at the islands, of which 15 percent, either in 
skins or in proceeds of sale, have been delivered to Great Britain (the 
Dominion of Canada), and a like amount to Japan, as their shares 
under treaty provisions. 

Before sale, the government-owned sealskins from the Pribilof 
Islands are dressed, dyed, machined, and finished, so that when they 
pass into the hands of the public they are ready for making into gar- 
ments. This work is done under contract by the Fouke Fur Company 
at St. Louis, Missouri. Public auction sales are held by the company 
twice a year for the account of the government. 

The care of herds of blue foxes on St. Paul and St. George islands 
during the winter months, when sealing activities are practically at a 
standstill, provides seasonal employment for the Natives. Approxi- 
mately 1,000 fox pelts are obtained each winter. These are sold at 
public auction, together with the dressed, dyed, and finished sealskins, 
by Department of Commerce agents at St. Louis, Missouri. 

The net revenue derived from the management of the Pribilof 
Islands fur-seal industry in the twenty fiscal years from 1918 to 1937 
was $2,209,290.24. 

Protection of the Alaska fur-seal herd is effected chiefly by vessels 
of the United States Coast Guard. This includes periods while the 
herd is migrating between the latitude of southern California and 
Bering Sea, and also while it is at the Pribilof Islands. Vessels of the 
Bureau of Fisheries also assist by patrolling the waters ofi Neah Bay, 
on the Washington coast, and in the vicinity of Sitka, Alaska. 


Sea Otters. The killing of any sea otter on the American side of the 
North Pacific, both in territorial and extra-territorial waters, is pro- 

The principal sea-otter rookeries are located in the western Aleu- 
tian Islands. Recent surveys of these waters by the Bureau of Fisheries 
in cooperation with other government agencies having vessels in that 
region (including the Navy Department, Coast and Geodetic Survey, 
Coast Guard, and Bureau of Biological Survey) indicate that sea 
otters have begun to reestablish themselves at the more favorable 
rookeries. Studies are being made jointly by the Bureau of Biological 
Survey and the Bureau of Fisheries regarding the natural history and 
requirements of this valuable animal. A permanent station has been 
established in the Aleutian Islands where fair-sized, sea-otter colonies 

Patrol for the protection of sea otters is chiefly by the Coast Guard, 
which has general authority to enforce Federal laws on the high seas 
and navigable waters of the United States. The presence of other 
government vessels in the vicinity of sea-otter rookeries acts as an 
effective deterrent to poachers. The slowness of the rehabilitation of 
sea-otter herds in Alaska under complete protection by law and regu- 
lation is evidence of poaching and of a real need for more adequate 

Walruses and Sea Lions. The killing of all walruses in the Territory, 
except by Natives for food or clothing, by miners and explorers in 
need of food, or for scientific specimens to be taken under permit 
issued by the secretary of commerce is prohibited. Sea lions are 
similarly protected. 


Prior to 1898 the annual mineral output of Alaska ranged from 
negligible amounts to approximately 5:5,000,000. After the discovery 
of gold in the Canadian Klondike and the entrance of a swarm of 
prospectors and miners into Alaska, production quickly increased, 
totaling about $20,000,000 per year in the period from 1906 to 191 4. It 
then jumped to an all-time peak in 1916 of $48,000,000, because of 
large new copper enterprises and wartime prices for that metal. After 
the war the output suffered, ranging between $10,000,000 and $16,000,- 
000, until the advance in the price of gold in 1933. In 1935, it was $18,- 
000,000; in 1936, over $23,000,000; and in 1937, almost $27,000,000. 


To the end of 1937 minerals to the value of about $750,000,000 had 
been taken from Alaska mines. About 65 percent of this total came 
from gold lodes and 30 percent from copper lodes. Silver, platinum, 
lead, tin, coal, oil, marble, and other mineral commodities to the value 
of more than $23,000,000 have contributed to this total. 

How great a wealth in minerals remains in the ground? Concern- 
ing placer gold reserves. Dr. Philip Smith of the Geological Survey has 
stated, "That the reserves are large cannot be doubted; that, judging 
from the facts in hand, they may be $500,000,000 or twice as great as 
the amount of placer gold already recovered, seems reasonable; that 
new large-scale developments may demonstrate reserves of even more 
than double the past production is regarded as not at all improbable." 
Estimates of the reserves of lode gold are more indeterminate than 
those for placer gold, but it is the consensus of opinion that the re- 
serves of gold in the lodes may far exceed those in the placers. The 
facts in hand are still too meager to justify even wild guesses as to 
the value of the other mineral resources of the Territory. Many of 
these have already been found in commercial quantities at widely 
separated points and have contributed notable amounts to its output of 
mineral products. 

Some commodities, such as building stone, gravel and road ballast, 
limestone, and clays, which have low unit value in proportion to their 
weight, already have been developed commercially. Were it not for 
cost of production and marketing, these and many of the now known, 
but undeveloped, deposits might supply limitless quantities. Ultimately 
these almost inexhaustible materials may become even more valuable 
than all of the other mineral products. 

Less than half of Alaska has been surveyed topographically or 
geologically, even on reconnaissance standards, so that for an area of 
about 300,000 square miles there is no dependable information avail- 
able as to what geologic conditions prevail or what mineral deposits 
may occur. Perhaps two-thirds of this unsurveyed area is regarded as 
likely to contain valuable mineral deposits. 

The whole theory of mineral development in the United States in 
the past has been to encourage the private citizen or organization to 
discover and utilize the valuable deposits that may be contained in the 
national domain, and to facilitate the passing of these deposits into 
private ownership. Criticisms of this policy have been made from time 
to time, and the adoption of the system of leasing oil and gas lands 


has in part met some of these objections. Other persons have main- 
tained that more encouragement should be given to miners and 
prospectors in Alaska than to those in the United States, and have 
urged that subsidies to prospectors and large credits for the purchase 
of mining machinery be made available by the Federal government. 

By far the larger part of the investigations that have been made 
of the mineral resources of Alaska are those carried on by the Geolog- 
ical Survey. This work, started in 1895, has been continued uninter- 
rupted to the present. These studies embrace all phases of investigation 
that are contributory to the finding of mineral deposits, descrip- 
tion of their geographic and geologic characteristics, and current 
records of production and of mineral development. In the course of 
this work hundreds of reports have been issued which have covered 
in more or less detail all of the principal known mineral deposits in 
the Territory. 

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the mineral in- 
dustry to the general welfare and development of the Territory. 
According to the census of 1930, about 4,800 persons were gainfully 
employed in the Alaska mines. Probably as many more persons are 
concerned with mines and prospects in which they hold interests, 
and an even greater number make their living by furnishing supplies 
or equipment for the mines or prospectors. 

Gold. The gold production of Alaska in 1937 amounted to about 

Gold is obtained in Alaska in two ways: by gold-lode mining in 
which a vein of gold in rock is followed through the ground and 
the ore crushed into concentrate that is shipped "Outside" for re- 
fining; and by placer mining, in which the gold is washed out of 
gravel. The lodes are the mineralized mines or masses of ore in the 
country rock and represent material in place. The placers are deposits 
of sand and gravel that have been worn from hard rocks in the 
vicinity, and in which the loose grains of gold or other valuable 
minerals have been more or less concentrated by surficial geologic 

Gold was first discovered in Alaska by Peter Doroshin, a mining 
engineer of the Russian America Company, in the Kenai River 
basin in 1850. Doroshin's attempt to mine gold in commercial quanti- 
ties was unsuccessful, and the Russian government discouraged fur- 


ther attempts. In the late i86o's, gold was discovered on Shuck River, 
at Windham Bay in southeastern Alaska, but was not systematically 
mined until 1880. 

During the late 1870's and early i88o's, a gold stampede began up 
the Stikine River and into the Cassia District in British Columbia, 
with the town of Wrangell as its center. Wrangell was thus the first 
town in Alaska to feel the stimulus of a gold rush. Productive gold 
mining had been carried on in Silver Bow basin near Juneau from the 
year 1880, but the Klondike rush was responsible for greatly increased 
activity in Juneau. In 1896-7 Skagway, gateway to the Klondike, came 
into being overnight, and the following year had 15,000 inhabitants. 

These stampedes were, of course, on Canadian territory, although 
the stampeders were largely American. The first stampede in Alaska 
itself was along Anvil Creek, near Nome, in the summer of 1898. In 
1899 pioneer miners began to extract gold from the sand and gravel 
of Nome beach, and the following year saw the great gold rush of 
1900. Gold was discovered near Fairbanks, in 1902, and thousands 
of prospectors rushed in from the Klondike, from Nome and up the 
old trail that later became the Richardson Highway. Placer gold was 
discovered near Hot Springs on the Tanana River in 1906, at Iditarod 
in 1908, at Ruby in 1907-10, and at Tolovana in 1914. 

From the beginning of the gold-rush days of 1898 for a period of 
twenty years, the placer production of gold in Alaska far exceeded 
the lode production. Since 1919 the output from the two sources has 
maintained a fairly constant ratio of about 60 percent placer and 40 
percent lode. The placer-mining operations are very widely distributed 
over the Territory, with the exception of southeastern Alaska, where 
the placers are of relatively small extent. Lode gold is recovered from 
widely distributed mines, but the present supply comes chiefly from 
three regions: southeastern Alaska, Willow Creek district in the vicin- 
ity of Anchorage, and the Fairbanks district. Southeastern Alaska 
accounts for about 75 percent of the total lode output. 

The first miners used the placer method, separating the gold from 
the sand and gravel with the gold pan, the rocker or cradle, or the 
long tom. With these a miner could wash the gold from at most two 
cubic yards of gravel a day. But soon, in order to work the ground 
profitably more yards a day had to be treated, and the sluice box was 
used. The gravel was shoveled into the string of boxes through 


which streams of water were diverted; and in the bottom of the 
boxes were cleats to catch and hold the heavier gold. By this method 
a miner could wash from eight to twelve cubic yards a day. 

Much of the gold was buried in perpetually frozen ground, how- 
ever, and the ground had to be thawed to work it. Steam engines 
were installed to do this, and the streams were diverted to wash out 
the gold. Or, when there were extensive deposits, ample water, and 
a favorable grade, the ground was lifted by the force of water into 
flumes, where the gold was recovered. It was later found that frozen 
ground could be satisfactorily thawed with cold water. 

Today, placer mining is a highly mechanized industry, and the 
individual placer miner with his pan or rocker has almost receded 
into legend. Before a placer mine is installed, the ground is prospected 
and drilled, and the number of cubic yards, with their gold content 
per yard, is carefully computed in order to determine accurately 
whether the ground may be profitably worked, and even what the 
profit will be. The trees or moss are first stripped from the ground, 
water flumes installed, and the surface dirt washed off with large 
hoses. The frozen gravel is then thawed by driving pierced pipes 
deep into the ground and forcing cold water through them, after 
which huge dredging machines wash and recover the gold from about 
9,000 cubic yards of gravel each per day. 

Silver. The total silver output of the Territory in 1937 was valued 
at $384,000. 

By far the greater part of the silver produced in Alaska occurs 
as a relatively minor constituent in ores whose principal value lies 
in some other metal. Nearly 70 percent of the silver extracted in the 
past has been derived from ores chiefly valuable for their copper 
content. All of the gold-lode mines yield some silver. Although silver- 
lead lodes have been reported at many places in interior Alaska, none 
of them has been very thoroughly examined or seriously considered 
for capital investment, because of the much greater unit price of 
gold and its more ready recovery. Rich deposits have been found on the 
Canadian side of the international boundary near the head of the 
Portland Canal, and it is there that the famous Premier silver and 
gold mine is situated. The geologic conditions on the Alaska side of 
the boundary, in the Hydcr district, seem to be comparable in places 
to those on the Canadian side, and this similarity has sustained inter- 


est in the search for profitable silver and gold deposits in American 

Copper. The output of copper from Alaska mines in 1936 was 39,267,- 
000 pounds, valued at $3,720,000. Large as these amounts are, they are 
small compared with the production for the period 1915 to 1927, when 
it practically never fell to less than 50,000,000 pounds a year. In 1916, 
it was 119,600,000 pounds. The great bulk of the copper mined in the 
Territory came from the group of mines operated by the Kennecott 
Copper Corporation in the Copper River region. These mines are now 
inactive, following the exhaustion of paying ore. 

Lead. The lead produced from Alaska ores in 1937 is estimated to 
have been 2,004,200 pounds, valued at $120,400. Practically all of this 
was recovered as a by-product from the gold ores. 

Lead ores are widely found throughout the Territory, and in the 
past, shipments valuable at least in part for their lead content have 
been made from many areas in southeastern Alaska, especially the 
Hyder district; from the Yukon-Tanana region, especially the Kan- 
tishna district; and even from faraway Seward Peninsula, at the 
Omalik mine, and from the Kobuk district, in the vicinity of Shung- 
nak. Lead is, however, a heavy, low-priced commodity which requires 
rather elaborate treatment to produce in readily salable metallic 
form, and these drawbacks, coupled with the low current price for 
the metal, act as deterrents to the development of lead deposits in 
remote regions. 

Platinum Metals. The total quantity of metals of the platinum group 
produced in Alaska in 1937 was 8,131 ounces, valued at $397,600. 

The most outstanding development in the placer platinum-mining 
industry in Alaska, as in the United States proper, was in 1936, in the 
Goodnews Bay district, in the lower Kuskokwim region. Places where 
platinum has been recognized are widespread through other parts of 
this territory. 

Tin. For many years Alaska has been a small but regular producer 
of tin and, in the course of the more than thirty years since tin min- 
erals were discovered on Seward Peninsula and later elsewhere in the 
Territory, has shipped tin worth more than $1,255,000. During this 
period the greatest annual production was in 1916, and was equivalent 
to 139 tons of metallic tin. In the period between 1920 and 1935, the 
average yearly output has been only about 13 tons. From 1935 on, how- 


ever, there was a great increase in production, due to a new company 
working in the vicinity of Tin, near the extreme western tip of Seward 
Peninsula. Ore recovered in 1937 is estimated to have contained about 
182 tons of tin, valued at $202,300. 

In addition to this new camp there were several smaller ones at 
various points in the same general region that produced limited quan- 
tities by ordinary open-cut methods of placer mining. A small amount 
of placer tin was also recovered from the gold-mining operations in 
the Hot Springs district of the Yukon region. Few parts of the tin 
area are far from the sea, so that transportation charges are moderate. 
The flying time from Nome is only about an hour. 

Coal. The coal produced by Alaska mines in 1937 was 131,600 tons. 
This, except for a slightly higher output in 1936, was the largest out- 
put during the whole period that coal has been mined in Alaska. In 
addition to the local production, 31,556 tons of coal were imported 
in 1937. The average price of the local product was about $4.20 per 

The Alaska Railroad uses much coal for locomotive and power 
fuel, but many orders for domestic use in the railroad belt are also 
filled. The largest single customer of the Healy River mine is a large 
gold-dredging concern in the Fairbanks district. A considerable power 
and domestic market for the product is being built up in interior 

In the Bering River field, where extensive deposits ranging in 
composition from bituminous coal to anthracite have long been 
known, prospecting or other development work relating to the coal 
resources remains at a standstill. This field has much potential value, 
but the present coal consumption of Alaska is not such as to induce 
large companies to undertake extensive projects. Furthermore, the 
preliminary work already done indicates that some complex geologic 
conditions will be encountered, so that desultory prospecting by small, 
poorly financed, or technically unskilled operators holds little promise 
of success, and full development must await a company that is able 
to go into the matter in a large way and bear the necessarily uncertain 
expense of exploring a new field. 

The whole problem of the development of Alaska's coal resources 
is exceedingly complex, for while there are in the Territory large areas 
containing coal-bearing rocks, the local demands are fairly well sup- 


plied by existing mines; and to attempt to enter a larger field would 
require considerable outlays for developing mines and the market. 
Obviously, many consumers are unwilling to commit themselves to 
any specific agreements to purchase until they are sure that the coal 
ofTered them is procurable at a satisfactory price; and the mining 
operator, of course, in the initial stages can offer little definite assur- 
ance as to costs and availability of his product until he is fairly certain 
of a market. 

Petroleum. No petroleum was produced from any Alaska deposits in 
1937, although there was some new drilling in the Iniskin-Chinitna 
district. For a number of years there was a small but significant supply 
of petroleum from wells of the Chilkat Oil Company in the Katalla 
district, on the coast east of the mouth of the Copper River. The 
boiler house at the refinery was destroyed by fire late in December, 
1933, and it has not yet been considered desirable to replace the build- 
ing and equipment, because the outlook was not encouraging for the 
profitable operation of the property. The wells were relatively shal- 
low; few of them were more than 1,000 feet deep and none of them 
more than 2,000 feet deep. Even when the Chilkat Oil Company's 
property is in operation, the small domestic production of petroleum 
from the Katalla field is not adequate to supply local needs, and the 
demand for large quantities of petroleum products throughout the 
Territory is met principally by imports from the States. 

Miscellaneous Mineral Products. The list of minerals of value that 
have been found in Alaska is long. Those which have been produced 
in quantities large enough to be of more than local significance 
and which have been the basis of profitable mining industries include, 
among metallic products, antimony, arsenic, bismuth, chromium, 
iron, manganese, mercury or quicksilver, molybdenum, nickel, tung- 
sten, and zinc; and among nonmetallic products, asbestos, barite, 
building stone, clay, garnet, graphite, gypsum, jade, limestone, marble, 
and sulphur. The only ones produced in quantities worth as much as 
a few hundred dollars, in 1937, were antimony, limestone, and quick- 

Although these various mineral commodities yield negligible mone- 
tary returns at present, yet their diversity, their wide distribution, and 
the interest displayed in the search for them indicate that they already 
play an important part in the mineral economics of the Territory 


and are destined to become even more significant as the development 
of Alaska proceeds. 


From the days when Russians were lured to Alaska by fur in the 
latter half of the eighteenth century, the fur resources have played an 
important part in the economy of the Territory. The Natives have 
depended on fur for a substantial part of their livelihood since the 
world's fur markets were first opened by Russian traders; and many 
whites also rely on it. Because of the small total population, this long- 
continued drain has not made serious inroads on the originally abun- 
dant fur resources, with the exception of the seal and the sea otter, 
which were almost exterminated but are now being restored. 

Many miners, fishermen, and other seasonably occupied workers 
spend the winter trapping. The principal fur bearers are fox — black, 
silver, gray blue, and white — marten, mink, otter, wolverene, weasel 
or ermine, muskrat, beaver, lynx, land otter, polar bear, and black, 
brown, and grizzly bear. From these animals are taken furs to the 
annual value of from two to four and a half million dollars. 

The shipment of furs from Alaska is stringently regulated, and 
whether by mail, express, freight, or personal baggage must be 
reported to the Alaska Game Commission at Juneau on blanks fur- 
nished for the purpose by local post offices. 

For the sake of better administration of its great fur production 
the Territory of Alaska is divided into eight fur districts. The regu- 
lations of the Department of the Interior on fur trapping are pub- 
lished in a booklet, "Regulations Relating to Game, Land Fur 
Animals and Birds in Alaska," a copy of which can be had by writing 
to the Alaska Game Commission, Juneau, Alaska. 

Fur District No. i includes southeastern Alaska. Here the trappers 
are usually fishermen during the summer, and their gasoline launches, 
beached in sheltered nooks, form their trapping headquarters during 
the winter. 

Fur Districts Nos. 2 and 3 are along the coast of Bering Sea, where 
the harbors are few and far between, and the shore is exposed to the 
full sweep of the winter storms. 

Fur Districts Nos. 4 to 8 include both the lowlands of the coast 
and the northern Interior, where the trappers travel by boat in sum- 
mer, by dog team in winter, and by airplane all the year round. 


Fur farming is an important and valuable adjunct to the produc- 
tion and conservation of wild fur animals. Blue-fox ranching on 
the various islands in the Aleutian group and the smaller islands in 
Prince William Sound and southeastern Alaska has become a well- 
established interest. Silver foxes are also being raised successfully in 
some portions of the Territory, notably on the Kenai Peninsula. Mink 
ranching is now on a firm basis, and considerable opportunity exists 
for expansion in the pen-raising of fine stock, for which Alaska has 
become famous. Fish, the basic food, is plentiful. Although attempts 
have been made at various times — and are still in progress — to raise 
other fur bearers, such as marten, muskrat, white fox, land otter, and 
beaver, the returns have not shown much hope for commercial de- 
velopment. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1937, two hundred 
and forty fur-farming licenses were issued by the Alaska Game Com- 

At the present time fur animals of Alaska are cropped as closely 
as appears consistent with the maintenance of a safe breeding stock. 
Reports on the exports of Alaska for the fiscal year ending June 30, 
1936, place fur skins third of all commodities as to total value, with 
shipments, including seal fur, amounting to $2,264,467. 

According to figures compiled by the Alaska Game Commission, 
the total value of furs shipped during a recent good year (1937) was 
about $2,313,000. From 1927 to 1936, over $24,000,000 worth of furs 
were exported. In round numbers, mink pelts were shipped during 
these years to the value of $4,235,000; red fox, $4,364,000; blue fox, 
$3,983,000; white fox, $2,032,000; cross fox, $1,012,000; and black fox 
(including silver fox), $779,000. Beaver pelts were shipped to a value 
of $3,068,000; muskrat, $1,930,000; lynx, $1,416,000; otter, $554,000; 
marten, $376,000. Weasel, wolf, wolverene, polar and black or glacier 
bear, and coyote pelts were shipped to a total value of $416,000, and 
blue fox from the Pribilof Islands to a total of $243,000. Squirrel, hare, 
and marmot were shipped in negligible quantities. 


Almost a quarter million square miles of Alaska land consist of 
tundra, unsuitable for farming, and upon which sheep or cows would 
quickly starve. On the vegetation that covers the tundra, however, 
millions of reindeer could feed and grow fat. Reindeer are not indig- 

74 T H E G R E A T L A N D 

enous to Alaska, and ihe origin of the present herds dates only from 
1891, when the Bureau of Education of the Department of the In- 
terior imported sixteen reindeer from eastern Siberia to Teller Mission 
on Seward Peninsula to provide a livelihood for the Eskimos and to 
furnish them food and clothing. Previously, twelve head had been im- 
ported by Sheldon Jackson with private funds and were successfully 
raised in Unalaska. The stock imported to Teller was increased in the 
next ten years to 1,280, and Laplanders were brought from northern 
Europe as herders to instruct the Eskimo in the methods of caring 
for the reindeer. Under a contract system Eskimos were allowed to 
earn a certain number of animals in return for their labor. Conditions 
proved so suitable that the original stock has increased to a reindeer 
herd conservatively estimated at 600,000 head. They are distributed 
over the coastal areas of Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean from the 
Alaska Peninsula on the south to Point Barrow on the north. The 
purpose of the importation has been accomplished; the dwindling 
Native food supply consisting of game and fish has been augmented 
by a more dependable source. Proper range and animal management 
will insure the perpetuation of this valuable resource and the well- 
being of the Native population. 

For several years no white Alaskans engaged in raising reindeer, 
but gradually, as the industrial possibilities became more apparent, 
outside capital attempted to establish a commercial reindeer business 
for the marketing of hides and meat in the States. In 1914 a com- 
mercial company acquired a number of deer that later developed into 
large herds, establishing, at least to some minds, a color of title to graz- 
ing areas occupied by these privately owned deer. Eskimo owners of 
small herds, fearing the encroachment of grazing ranges and finding 
their own herds must be moved on or run the danger of being mixed 
with commercial herds, complained. Protests, affidavits, and petitions 
accumulated; reports and surveys were made; a House Committee 
was appointed at Washington and held hearings — all in a cloud of 
recrimination, indignation, charges, and counter-charges. In 1930 ex- 
ports amounted to 20,000 hides and 2,500,000 pounds of meat. Since 
1930 the commercial enterprises have shrunk, and are not likely to be 
revived, because of the enactment of the Alaska Reindeer Law of 1937 
under which all reindeer owned by whites are to be bought by the 
government and managed for the benefit of the Natives. The sum of 
$2,000,000 was authorized for this purpose. The Reindeer Law was 


enacted "to provide subsistence for the Eskimos and other Natives 
of Alaska by establishing for them a permanent and self-sustaining 
economy; to develop Native activity in all branches of the reindeer 
industry; and for other purposes." The Reindeer Service was trans- 
ferred to the Office of Indian Affairs in 1937. 

At present more than two-thirds of the total number of reindeer 
on the range are owned by Native cooperative associations, which in- 
sure the Eskimos an ample supply of food and clothing, with the least 
danger of its being diverted to individual gain, whether by Natives 
or white men. In 1937 Natives killed nearly 37,000 reindeer for food 
and clothing. It is estimated that from 13,000 to 15,000 Natives, includ- 
ing dependents, rely on reindeer as an essential source of food and 

Practically every phase of the industry has been improved, includ- 
ing management of the range and herds, and handling of the products 
after slaughter. In 1920 one of the first scientific investigations of the 
problem was undertaken by the Biological Survey. In 1928 a Reindeer 
Experiment Station was established at College with substations at 
Nome and on Nunivak Island. Cooperating agencies included the 
Alaska University, Alaska Railroad, and several bureaus in the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture. Investigations have been concerned with feeding, 
breeding, animal habits, morphology, range capacities, and packing- 
plant methods. 

Of the estimated 315,000 square miles of grazing land in Alaska, 
there are 200,000 square miles considered suitable only for reindeer. 
Most of this consists of the vast stretches of treeless tundra bordering 
on the Bering Sea and the Arctic coast. Since grazing is on a year- 
round basis, each herd must be provided with suitable range to meet 
the needs of spring, summer, fall, and winter. Herbaceous and shrubby 
vegetation which provides the forage on summer range grows rapidly 
and withstands heavy grazing. Lichens and mosses, however, which 
must be depended upon for winter range, do not furnish an annual 
crop, grow very slowly, and are easily destroyed by trampling or close 
cropping, especially under dry summer conditions. On many areas 
where reindeer grazing has been carried on for several years, the orig- 
inal lichen cover has disappeared and been replaced by perennial 
species of vegetation not at all suitable to winter use. It is estimated 
that from fifteen to twenty years may be required to rehabilitate some 
of these areas. Winter range must have complete protection during 


late spring, summer, and early fall, to insure perpetuation of the lichen 
cover and provide a sure source of winter feed. 

The menace to reindeer grazing in recent years has come from 
predatory animals, especially wolves and coyotes. Other difficulties 
have operated to slow up Native progress in reindeer management, 
including parasites and other insect pcsis, rigorous climatic conditions, 
the absence of transportation and communication in the Interior, mix- 
ing of herds and ownership disputes, lack of marketing equipment, 
and the expense of shipping meat over 2,000 miles by water to market 
in the States. 

Fire is very harmful to the tundra vegetation. Areas adjacent 
to population centers and along routes of travel show greatest fire 
damage, and many large areas have been completely denuded by 
repeated burning. 

Investigations to date indicate a potential grazing capacity of 
4,000,000 animals with a possible animal yield of about 1,000,000 hides 
and 150,000,000 pounds of meat. The importance of reindeer to the 
social and economic welfare of the Natives can scarcely be over- 
emphasized. The range conservation lesson of devastation in the West 
following pioneer settlement needs to be heeded in Alaska, otherwise 
the cover resources eventually will disappear, and with them the rein- 
deer herds and the security they afford to the remote Native com- 


The total land available for farming and grazmg in Alaska has 
been estimated at about 100,000 square miles, of which 65,000 square 
miles are suitable for agriculture and 35,000 for grazing. Since this 
area is as extensive as the combined areas of all the North Atlantic 
states as far south as Virginia, it is potentially capable of supporting 
a large population. The principal areas suitable for agriculture are 
found in the Matanuska and Tanana valleys. 

Alaska is in general a mountainous country. Only the gentler 
slopes of the hills are arable, and practically every foot of soil has 
to be cleared before it can be put under cultivation. Farming is 
necessarily restricted to a few areas, because the country is thinly 
populated and transportation facilities are limited. 

Grains, such as rye, wheat, oats, and barley, are successfully grown 
in the Interior; and the hardier vegetables, such as radishes, mustard, 


turnips, kale, potatoes, and lettuce, can be grown almost anywhere and 
are frequently seen in gardens well within the Arctic Circle. With 
ordinary care, along the coast and in the Interior may be grown 
carrots, parsnips, parsley, peas, cress, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels 
sprouts, onions, spinach, beets, potatoes, rhubarb, and garden herbs. 
Corn, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, melons, and other vegetables requir- 
ing a long hot summer cannot be grown under ordinary conditions. 
Attempts to grow orchard fruit have failed, but berries are plentiful 
everywhere. Hay can be made every season from native grasses, and 
ensilage is prepared from grass, grain, or a combination of field-peas 
and oats. 

While the farm products grown in Alaska compare favorably in 
quality with those grown in the States — Alaska potatoes, for instance, 
took first prize at a Minnesota State fair — the 15,000 permanent resi- 
dents within distributing distance of the four principal farming areas 
consume annually farm produce valued at almost a million dollars — 
imported from Seattle. And only about 2,000 Alaskans, including those 
in the government cooperative colony at Matanuska, are farmers. 

Mosquitoes somewhat impede farm operations. It is necessary for 
men working in the fields during the months of May, June, and 
July, to wear head nets and canvas gloves. A number of farmers 
prepare smudges in the pastures, so that the cattle, when tormented 
seriously by mosquitoes, may stand in the smoke for relief. 

Farm lands in Alaska may be acquired either by homesteading or 
by purchase. Homesteads may be located on agricultural land by 
citizens of the United States or by one who has declared his intention 
to become a citizen. The homesteader must establish residence within 
six months of taking up the homestead, and must continue it for at 
least seven months out of each year, for three years. He must cultivate 
one-sixteenth of his homestead within the first two years and one- 
eighth before the end of the third year, must erect a habitable house 
on the land, and must prove the homestead within five years from 
the date of entry. Full information may be obtained by writing the 
General Land Office at Washington, D. C, for the laws and regula- 
tions relating to public lands in the Territory. Circular No. i, "Infor- 
mation for Prospective Settlers in Alaska," published by the University 
of Alaska, contains much valuable information for the prospective 

A homesite of not more than five acres may be acquired by any 


citizen of the United States, the requirement being legal residence on 
the tract in a habitable house for a period of three years. Many fisher- 
men, miners, and others who wish to make a home and garden 
beyond the limits of incorporated towns take advantage of the home- 
site law. Certain areas within the national forests may be acquired 
in similar manner. Settlers, miners, residents, and prospectors may 
take from the national forests, free of charge, green or dry timber up 
to 10,000 feet of saw timber and 25 cords of wood a year, for per- 
sonal use but not for sale. 

Below are described the main farming regions today, with some 
indication of the climate, soil, and produce grown. 

Matanuska Valley. At the head of Knik Arm of Cook Inlet, about 
125 miles inland, is Matanuska Valley. It is reached by the Alaska 
Railroad and by automobile highway from Anchorage. The high lati- 
tude gives the valley long winters, short summers, and great variation 
in the length of day between winter and summer. 

Because of the modifying influence of the surface features and the 
warm coastal waters, the Matanuska Valley region has temperate sum- 
mers, moderately cold winters, and a moderate rainfall. The climate 
lacks the extremes of temperature and the light precipitation that char- 
acterize the great interior valleys of the Yukon River and its tribu- 
taries. The mountain ranges also protect the region against fierce 

Wind storms of sufficient intensity to cut the snow from cleared 
and exposed places are not common, but do occur frequently enough 
to endanger the life of exotic perennials, such as ornamentals and 
bush fruits. During May, as the fields dry and are prepared for seed- 
ing, occasional winds cause some damage by blowing the fine soil from 
the field. As larger areas are cultivated, this condition will be aggra- 
vated unless proper conservation methods are applied. 

Tanana Valley. Two hundred and forty miles north of Matanuska, 
and separated from it by the rugged Alaska Range, is the Tanana Val- 
ley. The length of the valley is approximately 205 miles by airline 
and 317 miles by river, and the maximum width is 70 miles. The 7,000 
and more square miles, or 4,480,000 acres, include in their physiog- 
raphy bottom or valley land and benchland. It is the northernmost 
region available for agricultural settlement in Alaska. 

The frost-free period in this region extends from about May 20 to 


September 5. During the growing months, beginning with May, the 
normal temperature shows a steady rise until it reaches its peak in 
July. The winters are cold, but healthful and invigorating. The aver- 
age annual snowfall for five years preceding 1937 was 59.39 inches. 
Lack of winds in this region permits the light feathery snow to remain 
evenly distributed over the ground most of the time. 

During the growing season the days are long. The total precipita- 
tion ranges from 8.5 to 16 inches. Approximately one-half comes dur- 
ing the growing season. 

Most of the land is hillside or old river-bottom land. Hillsides with 
a southern exposure are considered the most desirable for farming, 
because crops grown on them mature earUer than those grown on 
river-bottom lands. The lowlands are productive and yield good crops 
of forage. The soil is prevailingly sandy. 

The most important farm crops are grain and potatoes. Oats and 
barley are grown both for grain and for forage. The yield of oats 
ranges from 36 to 75 bushels per acre, with an average of about 50 
bushels. One farmer regularly produces from 10 to 12 tons of market- 
able potatoes per acre. Yields range from four to seven tons, and 
prices from $2.50 to $5.00 a hundred pounds. 

Currants, either red- or white-fruited, produce dependable crops, 
the white out-yielding the red. Red raspberries have been grown many 
years commercially on south-slope land. Strawberries of hybrid origin 
have produced excellent crops, but for the most part this fruit is grown 
in gardens for home use. Loss of plants through winter injury occurs 
infrequently. At the abandoned Rampart Station a small field, uncared 
for, has produced regular crops for more than twenty years. Wild 
fruit, such as high bush and low bush cranberries, red raspberries, red 
currants, and blueberries, is fairly plentiful. 

The Tanana region is well suited to dairying. Summer pasture is 
available for four months of the year. Hogs can also be produced 

Southwestern Alaska. The agricultural regions of southwestern 
Alaska include the Alaska Peninsula and the treeless islands beginning 
with the Kodiak-Afognak group, and extending westward to the ex- 
treme end of the Aleutian Islands chain. 

At the lower elevation on the mountainsides several types of grasses 
and a dense growth of mosslike plants form a good range for cattle 


during the summer. Any large area of beach rye and sedge grasses at 
the head of a bay can be harvested for hay and silage with a mowing 
machine, if the area is not cut too deeply by small streams. These 
grasses make dense growth and attain a height of about four feet. 
Numerous attempts have been made to raise livestock on the islands 
beyond Kodiak Island, but have failed in the past because of the high 
transportation costs. 

Kenai Peninsula. The western part of the Kenai Peninsula between 
Cook Inlet and the Kenai Mountains contains some of the best agri- 
cultural land in Alaska. The climate is never severe, being neither 
extremely cold in winter nor hot in summer. It is tempered by the 
warm winds from the Pacific Ocean, which is less than one hundred 
miles to the south in a direct line. 

This region is destined to remain undeveloped, however, until 
economical transportation can be provided. On account of the shallow 
waters which border the shores of Cook Inlet, large ocean vessels 
must anchor from three to five miles out. During the winter when the 
rivers are frozen over, practically no transportation facilities are avail- 
able for the larger portion of this valuable agricultural land. With the 
advent of a wagon road connecting the towns of Homer, Ninilchik, 
Kusilof, and Kenai with the present railroad, this fertile region will 
undoubtedly become more settled. 

Southeastern Alaska. There is little agriculture in southeastern 
Alaska. The district is more densely populated than other regions, 
however, and limited areas at the heads of bays and on the tide flats 
are used for crops and livestock. Most of the small areas under cultiva- 
tion are near towns which may be reached by small boats or by newly 
built roads. The principal crops grown for the market are carrots, 
rutabagas, cabbages, potatoes, strawberries, and raspberries. There are 
about three hundred head of dairy cattle in southeastern Alaska; the 
largest herds are located near towns. Milk produced in this region is 
bottled and supplied to the towns. Practically all feed for the animals 
is shipped from the States. Farmers who do not live near the towns 
are dependent upon native tide-flat grasses for forage. The cost of 
clearing land in southeastern Alaska is prohibitive, and farming opera- 
tions are, therefore, limited to home gardening, trucking, and pro- 
ducing hay on isolated, grass-covered tide flats. 


Healy. An area of about 200 square miles of land on the north slope 
of the Alaska Range with Healy as a center is believed to be a 
potential sheep-range country. On account of its elevation this region 
is treeless. No snow lies on the ground longer than three to seven days 
at any time, because of the high winds. The native vegetation consists 
of several types of bunch grass and sedges, native rediop, low bush 
cranberry, blueberry, dwarf birch, and dwarf willow. Enough native 
hay may be made to supplement the forage the animals obtain on 
the open range in winter. It is estimated that the carrying capacity 
of this range is 150 sheep per square mile. Range horses have been 
over-wintered for several years. 

KusKOKWiM AND YuKON Valleys. There are many thousand square 
miles of potential agricultural land in these valleys, but its remoteness 
and inaccessibility, or the fact that the main lanes of travel have 
become established elsewhere, will undoubtedly cause it to remain 
undeveloped for a considerable period. This land is covered with a 
mixture of spruce and birch, indicating that it is able to produce crops 
similar to those now being produced in the Tanana Valley. 

FoRTYMiLE Area. There is another considerable piece of agricultural 
land north of the Tanana River, between the Tanana and Fortymile, 
and more particularly along the South Fork of the Fortymile River, 
estimated at 750,000 acres. This large area has as yet no transportation 
facilities worthy of mention. The Bates Rapids in the Tanana River, 
some distance beyond Fairbanks, are of such a nature that only small 
and very powerful boats can pass them; and because of this very few 
boats navigate to the upper Tanana. 


About 70 percent of the total area of Alaska, or about 400,000 
square miles, is covered with vegetation of great economic importance 
to its inhabitants — forest, grassland, and tundra. The four million 
acres of spruce and hemlock along the southern coast produce saw- 
timber, shingles, poles, and common lumber, and are capable of 
supplying a million tons of newsprint a year forever. The forty million 
acres of smaller trees in the Interior hold the rivers in check, supply 
fuel for wood-burning river steamers and for the miner's and pros- 


pector's oil-drum stoves, furnish lumber for mining operations and 
building, and could contribute to the homesteading needs of a very 
large future population. The one hundred ten million acres of open 
woodland and grassland support large herds of big game and some 
local livestock, and on approximately one hundred million acres of 
tundra in the north and northwest roam the reindeer of the Eskimo. 

The development of the vegetative resources of Alaska has barely 
started, and at present the Territory is in about the same stage as were 
the western states seventy years ago. The Federal government is now 
preparing to spend huge sums to correct some serious mistakes that 
were made in the handling of the resources of these states, and with 
this as an object lesson similar mistakes in Alaska can be avoided by 
planning for a proper use of its resources. These lands are now almost 
wholly in Federal ownership, and private use of them can be made 
subject to such restrictions as Congress and the responsible Federal 
agencies may prescribe. In interior and Arctic Alaska the white 
occupation has devastated by continuous fires the timber, grass, and 
tundra cover which are needed to support the varied and abundant 
existing wild life and provide a basis for future increased settlement. 
The Interior Forest. In the Interior, stands of sufficient density to 
be classed as forests are common but seldom continuous over extensive 
areas. The main forest occupies the better drained soils of valley floors, 
benches, rolling ground, and the lower slopes, seldom growing above 
an altitude of 2,500 feet and often holding to much lower limits, 
because of adverse local conditions. The wet lowlands are predom- 
inantly occupied by black spruce rarely exceeding six inches in 
diameter, with intermixed stunted tamarack, white spruce, and Alaska 
white birch. The trees often occur as scattered individuals or in small 

Growth in the Interior forest is very slow, and even under good 
protection and management may fall short of fully supplying timber 
needs of the future local population. Timber cutting, so far, has been 
confined to supplying material for local purposes — chiefly mining 
timbers and cord wood for fuel — and while the aggregate removed has 
been fairly large, it is only a negligible percentage of the total avail- 
able. At the same time, fires and heavy cutting have about exhausted 
the supply of readily accessible material around some of the settle- 


The per capita consumption of timber in interior Alaska is high 
even for a frontier country. Its principal use is for fuel, during the 
long and intensely cold winters. Wood-burning river steamers and 
mining operations also make unusually heavy demands. Small saw- 
mills operating at Fairbanks and elsewhere produce sawed lumber 
for local use. It seems reasonable to suppose that little of the Interior 
timber will ever come into the general timber-products market, though 
birch trees of the best quality are suitable for cabinetmaking and may 
be removed from some of the more accessible areas, such as the head 
of Cook Inlet. Local activities and future homemakers will need 
increasingly large quantities of forest products. 

Coast Forests. The coast forest of southeastern Alaska and the Prince 
William Sound region is predominantly a mixed stand of western 
hemlock and Sitka spruce. Western red cedar and Alaska cedar are 
frequently associated with the two principal species, and any one of 
the four can occasionally be found as a pure stand of small extent. 
The forest has an almost tropical denseness. Down timber, which 
decays slowly because of almost continuous saturation from an abun- 
dant rainfall, is found in profusion, and a carpet of moss covers the 
decaying logs and the forest floor to a depth of six inches or more. 

The forest extends from the edge of tidewater to altitudinal limits 
of about 2,750 feet in the southern and 2,000 feet in the northern 
sections. Commercial timber gives way at approximately 1,500 feet to 
stands of dwarfed, limby trees, which are designated "subalpine" and 
classified as noncommercial. With steep slopes the rule, the com- 
mercial forests occur largely in fairly narrow bands along the shore- 
lines. A vast portion of the readily accessible area and perhaps as 
much as 75 percent of the timber of usable quaUty lie within two and 
one-half miles of tidewater. 

National Forests. Most of the standing timber of the coast forests 
are in the Chugach and Tongass National Forests, which together 
make up the greater part of the land area of the southern coast from 
Portland Canal to Cook Inlet. The Chugach National Forest centers 
in the Prince William Sound region, and the Tongass comprises the 
greater part of southeastern Alaska. 

The Tongass National Forest has higher present and potential eco- 
nomic value than Chugach National Forest, because of the better qual- 
ity and the greater volume of its timber, a shorter haul to the general 


markets, and better water-power resources for timber-using industries. 
The Tongass includes about 16,550,000 acres, of which 3,000,000 acres 
contain timber of commercial value. The average stand per acre for 
the commercial forests of the Tongass is about 26,000 board feet, 
although individual large logging units frequently have 40,000 to 
50,000 board feet per acre. 

The greater part of the timber used in southern Alaska is pur- 
chased from the national forests. The annual cut of the forests 
increased from 8,000,000 board feet in 1909 to 43,000,000 board feet 
in 1936. The total for this twenty-eight-year period was 1,050,000,000 
board feet. Most of the present output goes into lumber, but about 
20 percent is used in the round for fish trap and wharf piling, or for 
hewn ties by the railroads of the Territory. 

The forest resources of southeastern Alaska will undoubtedly be 
used chiefly to manufacture newsprint paper. Studies by the Forest 
Service indicate that the forests of this region, under a proper system 
of management, can produce at least 1,000,000,000 board feet of pulp- 
wood annually in perpetuity under proper forestry measures. Con- 
verted into newsprint this represents a production of 1,300,000 tons, or 
more than one-fourth of the present yearly consumption in the United 


THE FACT THAT ALASKA has no land transport connections 
with continental United States has had a profound effect on its 
development. Western United States was built by successive waves of 
settlement along the frontier from the older centers; and the draft 
animals and covered wagons of the emigrant enabled him to provide 
his own transportation for the journey. Road and railroad extensions 
usually followed the pioneer trails. But today Alaska, as in the past, 
can be reached only by a considerable ocean voyage that requires a 
substantial outlay of cash by the prospective settler and presents 
difficult and costly operating problems to the prospective industrialist. 
The implements and tools of the settler or industrial worker, the 
clothes he wears, and much of the food he eats must be shipped over 
a long route. Any extensive markets for agricultural and other 
products are at the other end of this ocean journey. 

In view of these facts, ocean transportation — its passenger and 
commodity rates, the frequency of its service and the character of its 
accommodations — constitutes to a large degree the "bottleneck" that 
determines the rate and manner of Alaska development. From the 
days of the gold rushes, ocean transportation has been a serious prob- 
lem; one that has not yet been fully solved. 


The major Alaska aciiviiies have always been seasonal, entailing 
a great movement of people and commodities norihward during a 
few weeks of the spring and southward during a short period in the 
fall. This has concentrated and unbalanced traffic making it heavy 
in these periods and extremely light in the winter. One saving feature 
is the heavy round-trip tourist traffic of the three summer months. 
In spite of the comparatively large total volume of business handled 
during the year as a whole, these great seasonal fluctuations lend little 
encouragement to the building up of the frequent, low-cost, continu- 
ous service of modern vessels. 

Less than one percent of the cargo and passenger traffic handled 
in Alaska ports originates outside of continental United States or is 
destined directly for foreign ports. For that reason, any consideration 
of the commerce of the Territory can be confined entirely to services 
between Alaska and the ports in continental United States. 

The exports to Alaska before the crisis of 1929-33 and during the 
recovery period after 1933 averaged better than thirty million dollars 
a year, while imports from Alaska (exclusive of gold) averaged better 
than fifty million dollars a year. The import of gold from Alaska 
climbed steadily from $6,640,900 in 1922, to $9,864,400 in 1933; then, 
upon the increase in the price of gold, jumped sharply to $15,883,800 
in 1934; and, consequent upon this stimulation of gold production, 
climbed to $20,373,000 in 1937. 

Exports from the United States to Alaska, measured in volume of 
cargo movement, declined steadily from 1929 through 1932, with 1933 
showing practically no improvement. An upward trend began in 
1934 and continued steadily through 1936; in the latter year there was 
the largest export cargo movement to Alaska during the entire eight- 
year period. The improvement was largely due to increased move- 
ments of foodstuffs, paper and products, petroleum, and machinery; 
although other items also showed increases. The outstanding event 
was the movement of petroleum and its products, which for 1936 was 
practically double that for any preceding year. In 1937 the United 
States shipped to Alaska $42,701,000 worth of products, an increase 
over the previous year of over $4,000,000. 

For the calendar year 1936, the total export cargo movement from 
the United States to Alaska, exclusive of tanker traffic, amounted to 
374,802 tons, of which 53 percent went to southeastern Alaska; 21 
percent to southwestern Alaska; 16 percent to Alaska Peninsula and 


the Aleutian Islands, and 10 percent to Bering Sea ports. More than 99 
percent of the cargo movement was from Puget Sound ports, with 
95 percent of the total movement from Seattle. A little over 10 percent 
of the total northbound cargo movement (excluding tankers) was by 
irregular services; the remainder being handled by the three lines 
regularly engaged in the Alaska trade with fixed sailing schedules. 

The largest single commodity consisted of petroleum products. 
Other important items were tin cans, paper boxes and cartons, and 
salt — most of which presumably were for the Alaska fish-packing 
industry. Another large item was lumber and lumber products, in- 
cluding crate slats and box and barrel shooks, also for the fish industry. 
A relatively large movement was of coal and coke. To a very large 
extent, all were essential commodities, with only a small percentage 
of what may be termed luxury items. 

Exports of Diesel oil, fuel oil, and gasoline in tankers from the 
United States to Alaska for the calendar year 1936 amounted to 81,507 
tons, of which 78 percent came from California ports. The rest came 
from Puget Sound ports. More than half of it went to southeastern 

Beginning with 1929, import cargoes from Alaska to the United 
States fell off until 1932. Imports thereafter increased substantially in 
volume, although not equaling the peak years of the eight-year period 
from 1929 to 1936. The chief factor in the improvement during 1935 
was the unusually large movement of salmon. Shipments of lime- 
stone, which during 1934 had fallen to nothing, were also resumed in 
1935. The revival of copper shipments in 1936 was an important item 
in the improvement of import business. They were larger than for any 
period since 1931. It is interesting to note that the upturn in exports 
to Alaska began a year earlier than the start of the upswing for the 
traffic from Alaska. In 1937 Alaska shipped to the United States 
$81,906,000 worth of products, an increase over the previous year of 
nearly four and one-half million dollars. 

Most of the southbound movement was to Puget Sound, the bulk 
of the movement going to Seattle. At least two-thirds of the inbound 
freight consisted of fish or fish products. Another large movement 
carried by the regular lines was 28,519 tons of ore and concentrates. 

The total trade with Alaska during the fourteen calendar years from 
1922 to 1936, inclusive, amounted to a grand total of approximately 
one and a third billion dollars. Of this total, about $450,000,000 con- 


sisted of exports to Alaska from the United States, about $760,000,000 
of imports from Alaska to the United States, and about $133,000,000 
of Alaska gold imported to the United States. 

Present-day trade with Alaska, in terms of dollars, is quite largely 
a one-way business. Alaska sends to continental United States 
products of the fisheries and mines, and furs, and imports supplies 
and foodstuffs. These imports can never balance the value of the 
exports so long as there are only 60,000 people in the whole Territory, 
including Natives. 

Were Alaska foreign soil, this unfavorable trade balance might 
cause alarm. Alaska is not a foreign country, however, and its products 
for the most part do not compete with those of continental United 
States. The salmon, to be sure, may be regarded as indirectly 
competitive with other sea foods; but a substantial part of the salmon 
canned in Alaska is re-exported and represents a by no means unim- 
portant item in American export trade. Copper is directly competitive. 
Furs are not, nor is gold. The balance of merchandise trade unfavor- 
able to continental United States statistically is in actuality highly 
advantageous, because of the manner in which the fisheries are 
organized and the nature of the commodities sent to continental 
United States — especially gold. 

Though continental United States may be the logical market for 
Alaska's products, trade, of course, does not have to be a two-way 
exchange. It may be three- or more-cornered. It is frequently pointed 
out that Alaska enjoys remarkable strategic advantages in trade by 
virtue of its location on the great circle course to the Orient. 

In fisheries, the most important industry today in Alaska, the 
opportunities are obviously limited. The competition is Japanese, and, 
because of the differences in production costs, particularly labor, there 
would be small prospect of developing any substantial trade with 
Alaska's nearest market outside the United States and Canada. Mining 
also suggests limited prospects for this type of development, since the 
chief product of Alaska mines today is gold. But gold shipped from 
Alaska to the Orient, even if this were possible, would not necessarily 
generate a back-flow of goods in exchange, and therefore might not 
be usable as one corner of a triangular trade. Some time in the future 
coal, oil, and copper might become the basis for such trade. 

Fur trapping, the third largest industry in Alaska, holds some 
limited possibilities for direct foreign trade. Probably no type of 


specialized agriculture could be developed which would permit par- 
ticipation in the export markets, especially those of the Orient. 
Products of the forests might some day provide an opportunity for 
export trade. If and when a newsprint industry develops in Alaska, 
a portion of its foreign market will doubtless be found in the Orient, 
though as yet this may be regarded only as a speculative possibility. 
There is, however, the thought that, if pulpwood or newsprint is 
developed in Alaska, some competition with Canadian exports to the 
United States will inevitably result. 

Passenger service between Alaska and the United States and 
Canada is an important part of Alaska commerce. By far the greatest 
proportion of the business both northbound and southbound is first- 
class. The next largest movement consists of third-class or steerage 
passengers. Practically the entire movement northbound and south- 
bound is via Seattle. The calendar year 1936 showed a total of 18,617 
outbound passengers to Alaska, a total of 20,502 inbound passengers 
from Alaska, and 4,996 cruise passengers, making a total movement 
for the year of 44,115. While most of these were handled by the 
lines operating regular services, a total of 732 northbound and 1,206 
southbound passengers were carried by irregular services; many of 
the passengers taken by the irregular services went to or came from 
points north of Seward. In 1937 an increase of 475 passengers over 
the previous year was noted. 

Passenger movement between the United States and Alaska, both 
northbound and southbound, reached bottom during 1932 and 1933. 
The upturn in both directions began in 1934 and continued with 
increasing volume through 1936. During the six-fiscal-year period of 
1929 to 1934, the southbound movement exceeded the northbound 
movement (exclusive of cruise passengers) by 5,564 passengers. But 
beginning with 1935, the northbound movement (exclusive of cruise 
passengers) exceeded the southbound, presumably indicating an in- 
crease in the population of Alaska. 

Three steamship companies operate regular freight and passenger 
services between the United States and Alaska. For all, Seattle is the 
base port in the United States. They are the Alaska Steamship Com- 
pany, the Alaska Transportation Company, and the Northland 
Transportation Company. 

The Alaska Steamship Company is the only carrier regularly serv- 
ing Alaska points north of the Alaska Panhandle, furnishing a mini- 


mum weekly service the year round bciween Seattle and principal 
Alaska ports as far north as Seward. During the summer season, this 
company greatly increases its sailings, running a monthly direct service 
from Seattle to the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands, and Bering 
Sea ports, including Nome and St, Michael. In addition, feeder 
services are run practically the year round to and from northern 
Alaska points to connect with the regular service of the Alaska Steam- 
ship Company from Seattle to Seward and Cordova. 

The Northland Transportation Company maintains weekly service 
the year round between Seattle and southeastern Alaska. In addition, 
this company has from one to two steamers a year which it loads at 
Alaska points with canned salmon and carries, via Seattle and other 
Pacific Coast ports and the Panama Canal, to Atlantic and Gulf ports. 

In addition to the services of the regular lines, other trips are 
olTered occasionally by carriers following no regular route. Some of 
these are with vessels owned by salmon canneries carrying their own 
business; others are chartered. 

Two Canadian lines serve Alaska from Vancouver and Prince 
Rupert, B.C. These are the Canadian Pacific (a part of the Canadian 
Pacific Railway system) with five steamships in the service, and the 
Canadian National (a subsidiary of the Canadian National Railways) 
with three steamships. All sailings of the two Canadian lines are 
from Vancouver via British Columbia ports — such as Powell River, 
Ocean Falls, Alert Bay, Prince Rupert — to the Alaska ports of Ketchi- 
kan, Wrangell, Juneau, Taku Glacier, Skagway, and sometimes Sitka. 
Practically all freight carried by these lines originates in Canada and 
passes in bond through Wrangell and the Stikine River or via Skag- 
way for final delivery into Canadian Yukon and northern British 
Columbia. The Canadian National service is maintained only during 
the summer months of June, July, and August. Between September 
and the first of June they have no service. The Canadian Pacific, how- 
ever, runs one vessel the entire year as far as Skagway. During the 
summer tourist season, this service is augmented with the four other 

The Alaska coastwise trade and the trade between the United 
States and Alaska are subject to the coastwise laws of the United 
States and are therefore regarded as domestic trades. The navigable 
waters of the Territory are subject to the Federal laws enacted for 


the protection and preservation of the navigable waters of the United 
States. The activities of the corps of engineers in Alaska for the 
maintenance and improvement of rivers and harbors for navigation 
embrace dredging of channels, construction of breakwaters, adminis- 
tration of laws affecting the navigable waters of the Territory, and 
surveys and examinations of waterways for the preparation of definite 
projects for improvement — all as authorized and directed by the 


ALTHOUGH THE KEY to the development of Alaska is ready 
access to its productive areas, its vast size and difficult terrain present 
many barriers to building a unified transportation system. Weather 
conditions in the Interior and the northwest add to the difficulty and 
expense of maintaining adequate transportation in these areas during 
a large part of the year. The seasonal character of Alaska's major 
industries complicates the problem. 

Four of Alaska's seven cities of i,ooo or more population are on 
all-year ocean routes, and two are located on the Alaska Railroad. 
Nome has no convenient method of land transportation, and water 
transportation is possible only during the summer months. 
Airways. A large part of the burden of transportation falls on the 
airplane, for although Alaska may not be ideally suited for aviation, 
aviation is ideally adaptable to Alaska. In 1938, there were 109 aviation 
landing fields in the Territory, in addition to a number of seaplane 
floats. About 155 modern aircraft flew 5,634,461 miles in the fiscal year 
ending June 30, 1938. In the same year almost three and one-half 
million pounds of express and freight were carried by air. No regular 
scheduled passenger plane service was available in 19^8 between con- 
tinental United States and Alaska, but eventually a trunk line will 



carry mail, passengers, and freight along the coast from Seattle, 
Washington, to Juneau via Ketchikan and Petersburg. The dog team, 
of great historic importance in Alaska's development, has been super- 
seded by the plane, except for short hauls. 

One of the first demonstrations of the feasibility of airplane travel 
in Alaska was the flight of four army De Haviland airplanes under 
the command of Capt. (now Major) St. Clair Street, United States 
Army Air Corps, from Mineola, New York, to Nome, Alaska, and 
return, between July 15 and August 24, 1920. The flight was conceived 
by Brig. Gen. William Mitchell, then assistant chief of the United 
States Air Service, whose interest in Alaska and its resources was 
aroused during his service on the construction of the government 
Alaska telegraph line as an officer of the United States Army Signal 
Corps. This flight definitely showed that air transportation in Alaska 
was practical. The round trip of 9,000 miles was completed in 112 
hours of flying. The attention of the entire nation was attracted to 
the expedition, which made many short flights — partly over uncharted 
country — beyond the Great Divide of the Canadian Rockies. 

Four years after the army flight to Nome, the Post Oflice Depart- 
ment shipped a plane to Alaska in order to determine the practi- 
cability of air mail service. Lieut. Carl Ben Eielson (now dead) was 
chosen for these test flights. Eight were made during the months of 
February, March, April, and May, 1924, between Fairbanks and Mc- 
Grath, Alaska, a distance of 272 miles. The test route, which required 
eighteen days one way by dog team, was made by air in about three 
hours. The average weight of mails carried on the outbound trips was 
302 pounds, and on the inbound trips 116 pounds. The tests ter- 
minated with the eighth flight, when the plane was damaged. So far 
as the records of the Post Office Department show, Lieutenant Eielson 
was the first carrier of mail by airplane in Alaska. 

National attention was next drawn to Alaska air travel in 1924 
by the Army Around-the-World Flight of four Douglas cruisers, 
which covered 28,000 miles in a total flying time of 371 hours and 11 
minutes. This flight has been said to be of as great importance to the 
world as the accomplishment of Magellan. It was undertaken to 
demonstrate the feasibility of aerial transportation and communica- 
tion between continents; ability to make long flights over portions of 
the world far removed from well-organized trade routes without 
other extensive transportation systems; to prove that aircraft could 


operate under all climatic conditions; to show the world that this 
newest form of transportation was equal to the most rigorous flying 
conditions; and to bring to the United States — the birthplace of the 
airplane — the signal honor of being the first nation to circumnavigate 
the globe by air. 

The first Alaska aerial mapping and reconnaissance expedition, 
conducted by the Navy in 1926 under the command of Lieut. B. H. 
Wyatt, demonstrated a practical use to which the airplane could be 
put. Three amphibian planes were assigned for the work, leaving 
San Diego, California, on the 24th of May, and returning on the 
23rd of September of the same year. The mine-sweeper Larl^ served 
as a seaplane tender. 

In May, 1926, Capt. Roald Amundsen, the famous Norwegian 
explorer, Lincoln Ellsworth, the American sportsman, and Gen, Um- 
berto Nobile, the Italian airship designer, left Kings Bay, Spitsbergen, 
with a crew of seventeen in the airship Norge (654,000 cubic feet 
capacity) to fly over the North Pole to Alaska. Although Nome had 
been the destination, storms forced a landing at Teller. The 2,000 
miles from Spitsbergen to Point Barrow was covered in 46 hours, but 
because of bad storms 25 hours were required to navigate the 700 
miles between Point Barrow and Teller. The actual mileage covered 
by the Norge in its flight, according to the report of Commander 
Nobile, pilot, was 3,291 miles. 

The flight of the Norge was reversed when Lieut. Carl Ben Eielson 
and Capt. George Hubert Wilkins flew their Lockheed Vega plane 
from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Spitsbergen in April, 1928. The plane 
carried a considerable overload of gasoline and oil, and three attempts 
to take off were made before it succeeded in leaving the rough and 
icy surface at Point Barrow. A pair of metal skis broke with each 
unsuccessful attempt. Temperatures encountered during the flight 
ranged from 33° above to 48° below zero. Except for the inconven- 
ience and delay of warming motors before starting in low temperature, 
the cold of the Arctic did not appear at any time to prevent the 
proper functioning of the motors. The difficult feat of navigating 
over the top of the world terminated in a very severe storm at Green 
Harbor, Spitsbergen, where the fliers had to await the breakup of 
the Arctic ice before a boat from Norway could bring them out. 

A flight that attracted attention was that of Colonel and Mrs. 
Charles A. Lindbergh from New York to Tokyo via Canada, Alaska, 


and Siberia during July and August, 1931. The route led from New 
York to Ottawa, Canada; Point Barrow, Shishmaref, and Nome in 
Alaska; Petropavlovsk in Siberia; on through the Kuriles Islands to 
Tokyo, Japan. No difficulties were experienced during the flight over 

World attention was again directed to Alaska's advantageous posi- 
tion along the intercontinental airway when Wiley Post and his 
navigator, Harold Gatty, landed at Solomon Beach, 36 miles from 
Nome, and again at Fairbanks, for refueling on their flight around 
the world from June 23 to July i, 1931. The distance of 15,474 ^niles 
was covered in the elapsed time of 8 days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes. 
Post broke this record on his solo flight around the world in 1933, 
completing the journey in the elapsed time of 7 days, 18 hours, and 
49 minutes. During this flight he landed at the town of Flat and 
again at Fairbanks, Alaska. 

A demonstration of the feasibility of moving a tactical unit of 
army aircraft from the United States to Alaska was made in July 
and August, 1934, with the mass flight of ten Martin (B-io) bombers, 
under command of Lieut. Col. (now Brig. Gen.) Henry H. Arnold, 
from Washington, D.C., to Fairbanks, Alaska, in 33 hours and 15 
minutes flying time, and elapsed time of five and one-half days. Seven 
intermediate landing fields were used. The return flight to Wash- 
ington, D.C., via Seattle, using five intermediate landing fields, was 
completed in approximately 29 hours flying time. The trip from 
Juneau, Alaska, to Seattle was made nonstop, entirely over water, 
following the coastline. This flight photographed from the air 20,000 
square miles of Alaska territory in three days. Since then numerous 
and much larger mass flights have been made by the Navy to Alaska. 

While on a "vacation trip" to Alaska in 1935, Wiley Post crashed 
with his passenger Will Rogers near Barrow on August 15, and both 
men were instantly killed. Two successful nonstop flights by Russian 
fliers from the USSR to the United States were made in the summer 
of 1937, followed by a third and disastrous attempt. Sigismund 
Levanevsky took off from Moscow on August 12, 1937, piloting a 
huge four-motored plane with a crew of six men, in a nonstop flight 
to Fairbanks. The plane was heard from for the last time when it 
reported over the North Pole, and a fruitless search was made for it 
lasting a full year. 

Howard Hughes made a record round-the-world flight in July, 


1938, flying with four companions from New York City to Paris, 
Moscow, Omsk, Yakutsk, Fairbanks, Minneapolis, and New York 
City. Leaving at 7:20 p.m. on Sunday, he returned to Fkjyd Bennett 
Field at 2:37'/^ p.m. on Thursday, having covered 14,716 miles in 
91 hrs., 8 min., 10 sec. 

Many government agencies make use of planes in Alaska. The 
Post Office Department permits its contractors on certain star routes 
to use them when practicable; nurses and doctors are transported 
to outlying districts to aid in the control of epidemics, and sick 
persons are rushed to hospitals by plane; large areas have been 
mapped by the United States Navy Alaska Aerial Survey; the Coast 
Guard uses planes to protect Hfe and property, and enforce the law; 
various conservation agencies patrol fishing grounds by plane, and 
the Bureau of Indian Affairs relies greatly on planes for the move- 
ment of personnel and emergency supplies. The Weather Bureau 
makes regular plane observations at Fairbanks, and the Alaska Com- 
munications System handles many weather and other messages for 
planes daily. 

Highways. Roads and trails under the supervision of the Alaska 
Road Commission in June, 1937, totaled about 11,000 miles. Only 
2,000 miles in all Alaska, however, were suitable for automobile and 
truck traffic. Included in the above number were almost 250 miles of 
highways in national forests, under the supervision of the Department 
of Agriculture, about 80 miles of highway in Mt. McKinley National 
Park, and about 250 miles of road constructed by the Territorial Road 

Not until 1898-9, thirty years after the purchase of the Territory, 
was any effort made by the Federal government to explore lines for 
roads and trails. During this thirty-year period, travel was confined 
largely to the open waterways in summer and their frozen courses in 
winter. Mining machinery and other supplies were usually trans- 
ported from the coast or river landings over the snow in winter, with 
some preliminary "brushing out" of the trail when necessary. Travel 
across country in summer was usually possible only on foot or by 
pack horse. The numerous swift and deep streams made this mode 
of travel difficult and often dangerous. 

In the summers of 1898 and 1899, the War Department sent out 
expeditions under Captains Abercrombie and Glenn to explore routes 



from Valdez, the head of Prince WilUam Sound, and from the head 
of Cook Inlet, to the interior, with a view toward connecting the 
coast with the navigable waters of the Yukon. Much valuable in- 
formation was obtained by these expeditions. The existence of a 
feasible route from Valdez by way of Keystone Canyon and Thomp- 
son Pass was first made known through the explorations of the party 
under Captain Abercrombie. Lieutenant Herron, of Glenn's party, 
discovered Rainy Pass and made his way through the Kuskokwim 
country to the mouth of the Tanana, on the Yukon, in 1899. 

As a result of these explorations and studies. Congress made an 
appropriation of $100,000 for roads and trails in Alaska for the year 
1901. A Board of Road Commissioners to operate under the direction 
of the War Department was set up in 1905, and the so-called "Alaska 
Fund" created, permitting the use within Alaska of all moneys de- 
rived from certain Federally imposed occupation and trade licenses 
collected outside of the incorporated towns. By subsequent amend- 
ments, 65 percent of this fund is available for construction and main- 
tenance of wagon roads, bridges, and trails. The Alaska Road Com- 
mission, a Federal agency formerly known as the Board of Road 
Commissioners, constructs and maintains the greater part of the roads 
and trails in Alaska, having expended to June 30, 1938, nearly 
$26,000,000 for this purpose since 1905. 

International Highway. Of utmost importance to the development 
of the Territory is the early construction of a highway connecting 
Alaska with continental United States. In 1933 a commission ap- 
pointed to study the proposed highway reported it to be feasible at 
an estimated cost of approximately $14,000,000 — $2,000,000 for mileage 
in Alaska, and $12,000,000 for the Canadian section. The contemplated 
highway would extend from Seattle, Washington, to Fairbanks, 
Alaska. Commissions have been appointed by the Canadian and 
United States governments to consider and confer on the problem. 

The route proposed for the highway follows the existing road 
from Seattle up the Fraser and Nechako river valleys in British 
Columbia to Hazelton; thence north to the headwaters of the Yukon 
River; thence down the Yukon Valley through Whitehorse and 
Dawson to Fairbanks, Alaska. It is estimated that the proposed high- 
way will be 2,256 miles in length from Seattle to Fairbanks; of this 
1,073 miles of existing road may be utilized. 


Railroads. There are only two railroads operating in Alaska of inter- 
est to the general shipping or traveling public: the Alaska Railroad 
(main line, Seward to Fairbanks) ; and the White Pass and Yukon, 
which starts at Skagway and traverses 20.4 miles of Alaska territory 
en route to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. The Copper River and 
Northwestern Railroad was closed in 1938 from Cordova to Chitina, 
although it was expected that tourist trains would be operated from 
Chitina to Kennicott. The Alaska Railroad, with 470.3 miles of main 
line, is thus the only railroad effectively ministering to the commercial 
transportation needs of a territory one-fifth the size of continental 
United States. No new construction in the immediate future is 

Under the Act authorizing the Alaska Railroad, town sites have 
been located, mineral resources investigated, agriculture promoted, 
tourist trade developed, a hotel and a hospital maintained, public 
telegraph and telephone lines as well as other public utilities erected 
by the Alaska Railroad. It also operates river boats on the Yukon, 
downstream from Nenana to Marshall and upstream from Nenana 
to Dawson. During the maritime strike of the winter of 1936-7 it 
operated coastwise vessels. 

Both freight and passenger traffic on the railroad are greater in 
summer than in winter: in summer the arrival of steamers from 
Seattle and from Alaska Peninsula points is more frequent, and in- 
dustrial activity along the Alaska Railroad more pronounced. During 
the winter months, boat service on the Yukon is suspended and 
passenger and freight schedules on the railroad are reduced to con- 
form to the volume of business and the less frequent arrivals of 
connecting steamers at the Seward terminus. 

The Alaska Railroad has operated without any sustained inter- 
ruption since its completion in 1923. Deficits during the early years 
of operation have been reduced so that a small operating profit has 
been possible. 


RADIO AND RADIO TELEPHONE. The Alaska Communications 
System, the name of which was changed in 1936 from the Washington- 
Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System, handles most of the tele- 
graphic communication in Alaska, both governmental and commercial. 
Its traffic is about two-thirds commercial and one-third government. 
Only about three percent is of a strictly military nature. It operates 
no wire lines. The physical plant comprises the headquarters and 
control radio station in Seattle, and a network of twenty-one stations 
within the Territory. Communication to any points in Alaska other 
than these twenty-one stations is afforded through facilities licensed 
by the Federal Communications Commission to members of the 
public or the government of the Territory. Both message and money 
transfer services are offered. Long distance radio-telephone service is 
available solely between Juneau, Alaska, and Seattle, Washington, at 
which place connection is made to the wire network of the American 
Telephone and Telegraph system, and through that system to most 
of the telephones in the world. 

At the time of establishment of the Federal Radio Commission 
(predecessor of the Federal Communications Commission) in 1927, 



very little study had been made of the private communication systems 
existing within Alaska. At that time radio in the Territory was not 
general. Any reasonable request for authority to install radio facilities 
was granted. It quickly developed that this policy, if continued in 
force, would lead to chaos, and an arrangement was reached with the 
Signal Corps of the United States Army for coordination of private 
communication facilities in Alaska with those operated by the Signal 
Corps. It was also agreed that stations desired for purely private use 
would not be authorized, and each person wishing to install and 
operate one in the Territory should be required to accept for trans- 
mission any traffic submitted by the public. This plan has operated 
very successfully, and at the present time there are 471 non-govern- 
mental stations of various classes, licensed by the present Federal 
Communications Commission. In order that these may be inspected 
from time to time, the Commission has a representative in Alaska 
with offices at Juneau. 

The Navy originally built a number of radio stations in Alaska 
both to serve the fleet and to provide commercial communication 
where none was available. With the exception of the station at Dutch 
Harbor and the two radio direction-finder stations at Soapstone Point 
and Cape Hinchinbrook, all these have been closed or turned over to 
the Army or, in the case of St. Paul Island, to the Bureau of Fisheries. 

The Federal Communications Commission, operating under the 
Communications Act of 1934, and the Alaska Aeronautics and Com- 
munication Commission, operating under an act adopted by the 
Alaska Legislature during its session in the spring of 1937, have 
jurisdiction over various phases of operation of radio stations by 
private individuals, corporations, and the Alaska territorial 

Overland Telegraph and Telephone. The Alaska Railroad operates 
501 miles of telephone and telegraph lines. They are strung on a 
one-pole line and are used both for commercial purposes and for 
company business. The telephone lines of the railroad are available 
for long-distance calls between towns and points on its line, and 
service is handled through the telephone exchanges operated by the 
cities, for which the cities receive 25 percent of the total charges. Calls 
between points on the railroad that do not pass through a city ex- 
change are handled by railroad employees. They send and receive 


commercial telegrams between rail-line points and the exchange point 
with the Alaska Communications System at Seward, Anchorage, and 
Fairbanks, for which established tolls are collected. 

For several years before Alaska was purchased from Russia, the 
Western Union Telegraph Company had been negotiating with the 
telegraph department of Russia for the joint construction of a line 
from Europe to the United States by way of the Bering Straits. An 
act was passed and approved by President Lincoln on July i, 1864, 
"to encourage and facilitate telegraphic communications between the 
eastern and western continents." This act embodied a grant to Perry 
MacDonald Collins, a director of the Western Union Telegraph Com- 
pany and a citizen of the United States, and included the right to 
construct telegraph lines to the boundaries of British America. This 
right was predicated on similar privileges granted to Collins by Russia 
and Great Britain to construct telegraph lines through their respective 
territories "from the mouth of the Amoor River in Asiatic Russia, by 
way of Bering Straits and along the Pacific Coast to the northern 
boundaries of the United States." Work was started in 1866, much 
of the material was on the ground, and during the year many miles 
of poles were erected in the territory which is now Alaska. This 
enterprise was never completed, and for a period of thirty-four years 
activity in Alaska with respect to electrical communication apparently 

The Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System was 
authorized by act of Congress, May 26, 1900, for the purpose of con- 
necting the United States Army headquarters at St. Michael by mili- 
tary telegraph and cable lines with other military stations in Alaska. 
The system was operated by the War Department under the direction 
of the chief signal officer of the army. This communication system, 
as first established, consisted of land telegraph lines between im- 
portant points. Subsequently, these land telegraph lines were aug- 
mented with short lengths of submarine cable, and in 1904 the 
installation of a submarine cable afforded direct communication be- 
tween the United States and Alaska. The cable was operated from 
that time until 1931, when it was supplanted by a network of radio 
stations for communication to and from the Territory. During this 
period the land telegraph lines were gradually abandoned and sup- 
planted by the radio telephone and radio telegraph. Today this net- 


work of radio stations represents the principal means of communica- 
tion for the territory of Alaska. 

Mail. All mails for Alaska are dispatched from Seattle, Washington. 
During the summer season all classes of mail are carried. During the 
winter season (October i to May i), on account of difficulty of inland 
transportation, mail for Alaska, except for post offices on the southern 
coast and those supplied by railroads, is limited. Preference is given to 
letters in their usual and ordinary form, postal cards, newspapers, 
and a limited class of merchandise. About lOO of the 199 post offices 
in Alaska have this restricted service. At best, this service is slow as 
compared with that afforded the mail elsewhere in the United States. 

During the winter season, service on about eighteen routes is by 
airplane under "star route" authorization. These include the two 
trunk-line routes from Fairbanks to Nome and from Fairbanks to 
Bethel. During the summer season, the major portion of the mails is 
brought by boat. 

During the period in which electrical communication was being 
developed, the Post Office Department undertook to handle mail. 
This was the first way of communication in the Territory. On July 
23, 1867, shortly after the purchase of Alaska by the United States, a 
post office was established at Sitka. On July 31, 1867, the postmaster 
at San Francisco, California, was authorized to arrange for special 
mail service not to exceed once a week to Sitka. The first trip under 
this order was made prior to December 28, 1867, by the steamer 
John L. Stevens. Communications during the first year were very 
limited, the records of the Post Office Department showing that but 
S54.90 was leceived by the post office at Sitka from the sale of postage 
stamps. With military posts at Kodiak, Fort Wrangell, and Fort 
Tongass, post offices were established at those points prior to 1870. 

Facilities for the transmission of mail increased as Alaska was 
settled and developed. In 1937 the number of post offices was 199, 
and the gross receipts were $117,389. Mail transportation in Alaska, 
on account of climatic conditions and rugged territory, has been con- 
fined principally to overland "star route" transportation and power 
boat services. "Star route" service is the carrying of the mails on 
overland routes on which no particular means of transportation is 
specified. Railroad service has aided materially in the transmission 
of the mails between Seward and Fairbanks. During the season of 


navigation, power boats have been used as the principal means of 
transportation, and after the navigation season, service has been per- 
formed by "star route" carriers overland. Dog sleds operating under 
the most adverse conditions have been used from the beginning for 
this type of service. Planes are now being used on eighteen of these 
"star routes," with a vast saving in time. 



THE TINY AIRPORT of Fairbanks, runways 400 feet by 3,000 ft. 
and 400 by 6,100 ft., is a few hours away from the Polar Sea which 
some hardy prophets call the Mediterranean of a future civilization. 
It faces, across that sea, the Scandinavian countries and the Central 
European powers. On its right stretches the broken chain of large 
and small islands that make up the northern coast of Canada. Ahead 
and on its left stretches the USSR, whose coast extends almost 160° 
of longitude, taking up almost half this new northern world. At its 
back lie the Hawaiian Islands, the Philippines, Japan, and Asia. 

Fairbanks lies midway on the great circle route around the world. 
It is about 24 hours' direct flight over the Pole from London, Paris, 
Berlin, and Moscow. Or, by the great circle route that allows for 
refueling and repairs, it is about a day and a half in flying time 
from Central Europe, whether by way of Yakutsk, Omsk, and Mos- 
cow, or by way of Edmonton, Canada, New York, and liic North 
Atlantic. New York and Yokohama are about the same distance from 
Fairbanks — some 18 hours' fast flight. 

Navigation along the coasts of the Polar Sea is not confined to 



the air. By stationing weather observers along almost the whole of 
its northern coast, and by observing the movements of the ice-floes 
once thought to block all ports within the Arctic Circle, except for 
a few days in the summer, and by using ice-breakers, the USSR has 
partly opened this new sea to year-round navigation. Ports are being 
developed, and industrial towns of 10,000 population are being built 
inland from the Siberian coast. 

Fortunately, the countries whose coasts abut the Polar Sea — 
Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, the USSR — have no shortage 
of raw materials, no population pressures, and no serious trade rival- 
ries. There is no reason, therefore, even in the present turmoil that 
grips Europe, why the development of the Polar Mediterranean 
countries should not proceed peacefully. 

Alaska's front door opens on Europe, its back door on Asia. This 
back door is guarded by the chain of Aleutian Islands that enclose 
the Bering Sea, the coasts of which are rich in fish, fur, and gold. 
In the event of Asiatic expansion northward, a joint defense of this 
sea by Siberia and the United States could no doubt be made effective. 

These considerations, coupled with the fact that the policy of the 
United States does not include the maintenance of large forces for 
local defense in time of peace, are no doubt among the reasons why 
the War Department has asked in recent years for no especial appro- 
priations for the defense of Alaska, except one for the establishment 
of a temporary military air base to obtain experimental data that 
would be helpful in the employment of military aviation in Alaska 
in case of war. Similarly, although a bill to authorize an appropriation 
of 35ioo,ooo,ooo for naval facilities in Alaska came before the House in 
1937, the Navy Department recommended that the amount be reduced 
to one-tenth of this sum, or $10,000,000. 

The present army garrison of Alaska, which is attached to the 
Ninth Corps Area, with headquarters at San Francisco, consists of 
about 12 officers and 286 enlisted men (as of June 30, 1937). This 
garrison is stationed at Chilkoot Barracks, near Skagway. In addition 
to this garrison, a total of 228 officers, enlisted men, and civilians — 
94 of whom are at Seattle — of the Army Signal Corps operate the 
Alaska Communications System. Members of the Army Corps of 
Engineers maintain and improve rivers and harbors for navigation 
and flood control, administer the laws, including the issuing of per- 
mits, for structures and operations affecting the navigable waters of 


the Territory, and make surveys and examine waterways in order to 
prepare projects for their improvement. 

Vast deposits of coal and petroleum, great expanses of forests, and 
an enormous wealth of minerals make local defense industries pos- 
sible, although these are as yet undeveloped. In addition, agricultural 
developments in the regions of Cook Inlet, the Tanana Valley, and 
Matanuska Valley might prove useful in time of war. 

The headquarters of the 13th Naval district, within which Alaska 
lies, is at Seattle. If necessary, Alaska may eventually be organized as 
a separate naval district. The Navy Department maintains opposite 
Sitka on 200-acre Japonski Island a seaplane station at which are 
based a small tender and a squadron of twelve patrol planes. The 
complement of the station is about 31 officers and 185 enlisted men. 
Mass flights of as many as forty planes from Seattle to Japonski have 
been successfully made. In addition to Japonski, the Navy Depart- 
ment maintains a radio station at Dutch Haxbor, Unalaska, and radio 
direction-finder stations at Soapstone Point, Cross Sound, and at Cape 
Hinchinbrook, Prince William Sound. These radio establishments 
are part of the Naval Communication Service on the Pacific Coast 
for the operations of the fleet. The Navy Department plans to estab- 
lish a seaplane station at Kodiak, and to develop Unalaska. All three 
of these stations will be capable of protecting minor naval forces and 
making repairs on them, as well as affording facilities for seaplanes. 

Besides its active stations, the Navy Department maintains nearly 
thirty million acres of Naval Reserve. Over 28,000,000 acres are 
included in the vast area of "Petroleum Reserve No. 4" that stretches 
across mile after mile of tundra in the Icy Cape region. Other exten- 
sive naval reservations are Cold Bay-Dolgoi Island (933,600 acres), 
Wide Bay (177,920 acres), and Unalaska (64,640 acres). The Navy 
may well retain existing naval reservations for the use of its forces 
in time of war, and establish such additional reservations as may 
be found necessary upon further study of the problem of defense. 
In addition to participating in fleet exercises and training cruises, the 
Navy Department in Alaska sends each year a naval cargo ship to 
Dutch Harbor and the Pribilof Islands to transport supplies and 
baggage for personnel of the Bureau of Fisheries, Bureau of Indian 
Affairs, and the Navy Department. This vessel brings back from the 
Pribilofs the annual take of seal skins, certain by-products, and pas- 
sengers and their effects. The Hydrographic Office, under the Navy 


Department, has surveyed some areas in the Aleutian Islands. The 
War and Navy departments cooperate with other Federal agencies 
in mapping and charting, in developing civil aviation and mineral 
resources, in roadbuilding, controlling alien fishing boats and fisher- 
men, keeping of? alien poachers of Alaska resources, and generally 
in developing the economic and commercial aspects of the Territory. 



Metlakaxla — Ketchikan — Wrangell — Kasaan National Monument 
— Petersburg — Admiralty Island — Juneau — Sitka. 


THE STEEP STREETS of Seattle seem not far distant from Alaska. 
Nearly every clothing store on First Avenue claims to be the Alaska 
outfitter. Chunks of ghttering galena, questionable nuggets, and 
bottles of black sand, flecked with yellow, reinforce we buy gold 
signs. "Alaska widows" are occasionally seen sauntering along First 
Avenue from bar to bar with their "brothers-in-law." In the leather 
chairs of hotel lobbies sit returned Alaskans — those from the Nome 
area favoring Frye Hotel; those from the Interior, the Savoy or the 
New Washington; miners and prospectors, the Northern, the Stevens, 
or the Atwood; the more prosperous, the Olympic; and that rare 
bird, the Alaskan with a wife and children, the Claremont Apart- 
ments. In Pioneer Square looms a giant totem pole carved by an 
Alaska Indian. A whaling company, a halibut exchange, a fishing- 



fleet base, a Coast Guard base, the home office of the Alaska Com- 
munications System, a United States Assay Office, shops scUing Alaska 
curios, a zoo containing Alaska bears, piers loaded with millions of 
pounds of canned and frozen fish, libraries of Alaskana, the office 
of The Alasl^a Wee/{ly — these are a few of the evidences of how 
closely Alaska impinges on the life of Seattle's citizens. While Alaska 
depends on Seattle for much of its clothing, foodstufTs, alcohol, 
machinery, and manufactured goods, purchasing as much as 
$43,000,000 worth of goods annually, Seattle also benefits by its near- 
ness to the northern Territory through the annual handling of 
approximately $65,000,000 worth of Alaska products. Most important 
to the visitor to Alaska is the fact that in Seattle, almost at the exact 
center of the city's waterfront, are the docks where he embarks for 

On Alaskan Way, named by a city-wide competition in 1936, is the 
point of departure for the Inside Passage. A combined freight-and- 
passenger vessel eases into the wharf, shorelines are made fast, and 
passengers descend the gangplank — Alaska business men, traveling 
salesmen, miners, prospectors, fishermen, teachers, government of- 
ficials, tourists, according to the time of year. From the steerage 
emerges a group of men returning broke from Eldorado. Slingloads of 
miscellaneous cargo are swung to the dock: whale oil from Akutan 
and Port Hobron, crates of canned salmon from Bristol Bay. With the 
care of hospital attendants wheeling a broken body, longshoremen 
trundle out the fuselage of a plane — a casualty of the North. Awaiting 
shipment are goods stacked in orderly tiers labeled with strange 
names: Ketchikan, Anchorage, Nushagak, Platinum, Nome. Long- 
shoremen endanger shins with bull jitneys and push-pull jitneys. 
"Fix that lazy guy!" somebody yells suddenly — not an injunction to 
greater speed, but a warning to the winch driver on deck that a guy 
line is twisted. 

After taking on cargo at other docks the vessel returns to its home 
pier and the gangplank is thrust out. A farmer from the dust bowl is 
heading North with his wife and four children. A chechakho in laced 
boots, fancy riding breeches, and logger shirt tries to look like a 
sourdough; beside him the genuine article, in well-pressed city clothes, 
spits meditatively. Into the steerage crowd cannery men, pale from 
their winter in the city. Last of all, laden with hand baggage, travel 


folders, and cameras, come a portion of the 35,000 "round-trippers" 
who visit Alaska every summer. 

From the ship's deck can be seen the forty-two-story Smith Tower, 
built in 1914, and marking the maturity of a city that reached its 
majority under the influence of the Alaska gold rushes. The business 
district of the Queen City rises sharply in successive gradients. Look- 
ing up one of these steep canyons during the five o'clock rush hour 
a returning sourdough asked a classic question, "Now who in hell's 
made a strike up that godforsaken gulch?" If no gold strikes were 
actually made in Seattle, Alaska rushes had a tremendous effect on 
the city, which had a period of mushroom growth beginning with 
the day the SS. Portland landed in Seattle and word went through the 
streets that she was carrying "a ton of gold." There are many points 
of interest connected with Alaska in the Seattle of today, and the 
visitor to Alaska should arrange his schedule so as to spend some 
time visiting them. 

Seattle Fur Exchange (auctions monthly; principal sales December- 
April; open 9-6 weekdays), 1009 Western Ave. A private company 
dealing in wholesale raw furs only and supplying worldwide markets, 
this exchange handles more than 20 percent of the Alaska fur output. 
The furs are auctioned in lots, at the rate of about 150 to 200 lots 
per hour; from 1500 to 3000 lots are sold at each auction. The bidders 
use a sign language to make known their offers. 

The Alaska Communications System (not open to the public) is 
housed in the Federal Office Building, First Ave., between Marion 
and Madison Sts. 

Mack's Totem Curiosity Shop (open 9-6 weekdays), 71 Marion 
St., Viaduct, oflers a wide collection of Alaska curios, ivory, fossils, 
and Indian handicraft. 

Alaskan Way, sweeping along the shores of Elliott Bay from E. 
Marginal Way on the South to Bay St. on the North, was first opened 
in 1936 after an expenditure of $1,586,000. The Alaska-Yukon 
Pioneers are attempting to raise funds to cast a bronze statue, The 
Sourdough, from a mold done by Victor Alonzo Lewis, and place it 
on Alaskan Way. The model for this statue was "Skagway Bill" 
Fonda, a Seattle resident over 80 years of age in 1938, who was among 
the first to head north in gold-rush days. "There were twenty-three 
of us streetcar conductors who quit in one day when the SS. Portland 


landed in Seattle with a ton of gold," recalls Skagway Bill. "I took 
my grubsack on my back, and tied it in the middle. When I came 
to the string I knew it was time to start back. I built the first log 
cabin in Skagway, the first bridge over the river, and laid out the 

Seattle Halibut Exchange (open 10-12 weekdays, April-November 
for bidding), Pier 8, foot of Spring St. Here, in an unpainted loft, 
are the Fishing Vessel Owners' Association and the Seattle Halibut 
Exchange, handling some forty-eight million pounds of halibut yearly 
in an office not much larger than a kitchenette apartment. There is 
no fuss about the matter. A "board boy," standing in a small pen, 
quietly chalks up the offerings as they are reported; big-boned Scan- 
dinavians smoking strong cigars, who know fish to the last fin, make 
the bids. Between 175 and 200 halibut trawlers make their home at 
Pier 8 during the season, nosing through the blue sound to range 
in the principal halibut areas of Alaska. 

Ye Old Curiosity Shop (open 9-6 weekdays), Colman Dock, foot 
of Marion St. In 1899, J. E. ("Daddy") Stanley brought to Seattle a 
wagonload of curios from Denver. A smiling man in a black skull- 
cap (in his eighties in 1938), the proprietor was awarded a medal 
by the United States for his ethnological Eskimo collection displayed 
at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. A comprehensive 
display of Alaska masks is maintained. Stanley makes many ship- 
ments of Alaska Indian and Eskimo wares to museums and private 

Alaska Steamship Company (open 8:30-5:30 weekdays), Pier 2, foot 
of Yesler Way, is equipped to supply information on a wide variety 
of subjects to tourists. 

The Totem Pole, Pioneer Square, ist Ave. at Yesler Way. Brought 
from Alaska in 1897, this fine example of totem carving was set up 
in Pioneer Square to commemorate Seattle's part in the development 
of Alaska. It was damaged by fire in 1938, but careful repairing has 
left no sign of the injury suffered then. The pole is the work of a 
Tongas Indian, and the figures, reading from the top down, are 
Raven, Shaman, Frog, Bear, Eagle, Whale, Eagle. These are the 
family crests of a chief and his wife before whose house it stood. 
What a given pole means, in any fuller detail, can be told only by 
the man who carved it or ordered it carved. These Indian pictorial 


Stories are richly allusive and as intertwined as the Arabian Nights. 
The maker of a pole often needs several days to "read" or explain 
it fully to the stranger. 

Frozen Fish Museum (open 9-12, 1-4 weekdays), Spokane St. and 
E. Marginal Way. Part of the port of Seattle's Spokane St. Terminal, 
this museum has more than 2,000 rare and unusual specimens of 
fish which by freezing retain their natural color and appearance. The 
storerooms for frozen commercial fish are also of interest. 

Chamber of Commerce (open 9-5 weekdays), 215 Columbia St., offers 
travel and statistical information, has current Alaska newspapers on 
file, and possesses a small collection of Alaska minerals. 

Seattle Public Library (open 9-9 weekdays, 2-9 Sundays), 4th Ave. 
between Spring and Madison Sts., has an excellent collection of books 
relating to Alaska. 

Old United States Assay Office (now a private residence, not open 
to the public), 617 9th Ave., between James and Cherry sts., was 
opened for business on July 16, 1898, during the height of the Klon- 
dike gold rush. It received on the average a million dollars' worth 
of gold dust each month. It was closed on December 31, 1914, after 
having handled a total of 455.3 tons of gold from Alaska and Yukon 
Territory valued at $227,539,656. The new assay office is at 815 Airport 

Hudson's Bay Fur Company Museum (open 9:30-5:30 weekdays; 
free), 1516 5th Ave., has a full exhibit of Indian and Eskimo curios 
from Alaska and the Northwest, including totems, handicraft prod- 
ucts, articles of wear, and hunting weapons. 

Seattle Post-Intelligencer (open 9-5 daily), 6th Ave. at Pine St., has 
a newspaper library open to research workers but not to the general 

Alaska Weekly (open 9-5 weekdays), 2100 5th Ave., has a file of 
pamphlets and papers on Alaska. Its own files, from 1923 to date, are 
available for research. 

Alaska-Yukon Pioneers (business meeting ist Fri. in month; social 
meeting 4th Fri.), 1923^/2 ist Ave. 

Ladies of the Golden North (meeting 3rd Fri. in month), 1923 V2 
ist Ave. Besides occasional dances and social events, these organiza- 


tions sponsor the Sourdough Stampede held annually in some city of 
the Northwest. 

Seattle Times (open 9-5 weekdays), Fairview Ave. N. and John St., 
has an information department open for research, and an excellent 
newspaper library on Alaska and the Pacific Coast. 

Seattle Coast Guard Base (open 9-6 daily), 1515 Fairview Ave. 
Coast Guard vessels from this base cover the Alaska coast and the 
Bering Sea as far north as Point Barrow. In addition, the Coast 
Guard inspects all commercial and pleasure craft departing from 
Seattle for Alaska. 

Charles Hubbell Collection (private), 1623 39th Ave., contains 
2,000 items relative to Alaska, including several rare Russian manu- 
scripts and maps. 

Clarence Andrews Collection (private), 3627 Ash worth Ave., has 
a number of rare books relating to Alaska, many of which are in 

University of Washington (open 8-5 weekdays), between 15th St. 
N.E. and Montlake Blvd. and E. 45th St. and Lake Washington Canal. 
Many Alaska miners take their problems to the well-equipped School 
of Mines. 

The Museum (open 1-5 Sun.-Fri.; 9-5 Sat.) displays specimens of cloth- 
ing, tools, art, and ceremonial objects fram Alaska, for the most part 
limited to the Indians of southeastern Alaska. Birds, animals, minerals, 
and prehistoric remains from Alaska are located in their respective sec- 
tions of the museum, but objects pertaining to Alaska are not segregated. 
The Library (open 8-10 Mon.-Fri.; 8-5 Sat.) contains 5,000 bound 
volumes relating to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, as well as im- 
portant manuscripts and rare newspapers. There is also a large collec- 
tion of photostats of records of Alaska taken by Dr. Frank A. Colder 
from the Russian archives in Leningrad and Moscow. A number of 
buildings erected for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition are still in 
use by the University. 

Woodland Park (open summer, 8 to dusk; winter, 8-5) bounded by 
N. 50th and N. 59th Sts., E. Greenlake Way and Phinney Ave. This 
park, under the direction of Dr. Gus Knudson, contains a zoo, hous- 
ing what is probably the best collection of live Alaska bears in 
existence. The Alaska brown bear was given to the park in 1904. She 


had been a performing bear in Seward, Alaska, but one day broke 
away and wrecked a saloon. The citizens of Seward named her 
Carrie Nation and exiled her to Seatde. An Alaska eagle, an arctic 
owl, and a white-fronted goose are also inhabitants of the park. 
Fishing Fleet Harbor, 15th Ave. W., below the Ballard Bridge on 
Salmon Bay, is the winter home of the 220 vessels of the fishing, 
cannery, and Northland Trading fleet. The vessels, including 40 trollers, 
66 halibut, and many general fishing and trading boats, moor here 
during the slack period while seamen overhaul the boats and prepare 
fishing gear for the coming season. 

American Pacific Whaling Company, Bellevue, across Lake Wash- 
ington via the Medina Ferry (dock at end of Yesler Way cable car; 
from Medina to Bellevue by a shuttle bus line) is the base of the 
Alaska whaling fleet of six steam whalers. About 120 men leave Seattle 
in May or June for Alaska whaling stations, in operating seasons. 

Leaving the dull red rocks along Alaskan Way, the steamer backs 
into crescent-shaped Elliott Bay. To the right looms residential Queen 
Anne Hill. Rounding West Point, marked by a lighthouse, the ship 
heads directly up Puget Sound. Bainbridge Island, hardly distin- 
guished from the mainland, is on the left, and beyond it and the 
forested mainland are the tumbled rocks of the Olympic Mountains. 
To the right. Fort Lawton's guns point unseen behind the forest. 
Shilsole Bay indents the shoreline, opening to Government Locks 
and Lake Washington Ship Canal. Finally the northwest corner of 
Seattle breaks off at a high bluff, the long white chain of the Cascade 
Mountains stretch across the eastern horizon, and the nonstop voy- 
age along the Inside Passage, 757 miles from Seattle to Ketchikan, 

The boat is never out of sight of land. The bewildering chain of 
islands, from which drifts an almost overpowering smell of spruce, 
baffles the passenger, who at any given moment is unable to foretell 
what way the boat will pick through the constantly shifting outline 
of mountain, island, and shore. Layers of mist lie on the hillsides 
like geologic strata, or are caught in spruce branches like wool left 
by celestial sheep, or form grotesque arches and doorways as if to 
lure the boat through false channels. 

Fogs are frequent along the Inside Passage, and formerly, vessels 


navigated entirely by dead reckoning, checking their position with 
blasts of the whistle. Pilots became expert in judging their exact 
whereabouts by the quality of the echo (which has a different sound 
according to whether it is reflected from a pine-covered island, from 
a mountain, or from open water) and by the time between the blast 
of the whistle and the echo. Modern navigation relies to a certain 
extent on radio beacons, but these cannot be trusted absolutely, as they 
have a variation of 5 degrees, and are sometimes deflected by the 
narrow channel. In thick weather pilots still rely on their knowledge 
of the channels, in which it is frequently necessary to make a turn 
at right angles. It is safer to steam steadily ahead in a fog, as on 
the basis of a consistent speed, with the necessary checks for wind or 
tide, the navigator knows exactly where he is. He simply puts the 
vessel on one course for the right number of minutes, then changes 
his course, keeping to the middle of the channel by blowing his 
whistle and listening to the echo. 

PuGET Sound, named after Peter Puget, one of Vancouver's lieu- 
tenants, is left through Admiralty Inlet, first explored in the summer 
of 1790 by Alfarez Manuel Quimper who named it Seiior de Santa 
Rosa, Admiralty Inlet opens into Juan de Fuca Strait, which was 
named in 1788 for a Greek mariner employed by Spain, Apostolos 
Valerianos, known as Juan de Fuca, who in 1592 claimed to have 
found, somewhere north of 47°, the "straits of Anian." Early cartog- 
raphers believed such a strait set of? Asia from America, and offered 
a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Much of the 
Pacific Coast was explored in attempts to find such a passage, which 
was ultimately navigated from the east by Roald Amundsen in 1906. 

In a search for this passage. Sir Martin Frobisher, sailing from 
England in 1576, sighted the southern shore of Greenland and entered 
Frobisher's Bay, supposing the land on his right to be Asia and that 
on his left, America. He was accompanied on the last two of his three 
voyages by George Beste, whose True Discourse was published in 
London in 1578. Frobisher, in the words of Beste, "Being persuaded 
of a new and nearer passage to Cataya (Cathay) than by Capo 
d'buona Speranza (Cape of Good Hope), which the Portugalles yearly 
use . . . began first with himselfe to devise, and then with his friends 
to conferre, and layde a plaync platte unto them, that that voyage 
was not only possible by the north-west, but also, as he could prove, 


easle to bee performed. . . . Wherefore, beeying furnished wyth the 
forsayde to barkes and one small pinnesse of tenne tunne burthen, 
havying therein victuals and other necessaries for twelve months 
provision, he departed uppon the sayde voyage from Blackwall the 
fifteenth of June, Anno Domini 1576. . . . 

"The worthye captayne, notwithstanding these discomfortes, al- 
though his mast was sprung, and his toppe mast blowen overboorde 
wyth extreame foule weather, continued hys course towardes the north- 
weast, knowing that the sea at length must needs have an endying, 
and that some lande should have a beginning that way; and deter- 
mined, therefore, at the least, to bryng true proofe what lande and 
sea the same myght bee, so farre to the northweastwardes, beyonde 
anye man that hathe heretofore discovered. . . . 

"Being ashore upon the toppe of a hill, he perceived a number 
of small things fleeting in the sea afarre ofiF, whyche hee supposed 
to be porposes or scales, or some kinde of strange fishe; but coming 
nearer he discovered them to be men in small boates made of 
leather. . . . 

"The captaine, notwithstanding, desirous to bring some token from 
thence of his being there, was greatly discontented that he had not 
before apprehended some of them. And therefore to deceive the 
deceivers he wrought a prettie pollicie, for knowing well how they 
greatly delighted in our toyes, and specially in belles, he rang a 
pretie lowbel, making wise that he would give him the same that 
would come and fetch it. And bycause they would not come within 
his daunger for feare, he flung one bell unto them, which of purpose 
he threw short that it might fal into the sea and be lost. And to 
make them more greedie of the matter he rang a lowder bell, so 
that in the ende one of them came neare the ship side to receive the 
bell, which, when he thought to take at the captaine's hand he was 
thereby taken hemself; for the captaine being redily provided, let 
the bel fal and cought the man fast, and plucked him with maine 
force boate and al into his bark out of the sea. Whereupon, when he 
founde himself in captivitie, for very choUer and disdain, he bit his 
tong in twayne within his mouth: notwithstanding, he died not 
thereof, but lived until he came in Englande, and then he died of 
colde which he had taken at sea." Thus Eskimo and Englishman 
met for the first time. 


Whidbey Island, with striking banks of gray stone, was named by 
Vancouver after one of his officers who circumnavigated it. It was 
first settled in 1848, when Thomas W. Glasgow paddled to the island, 
built a cabin, and sowed wheat and potatoes. He was driven o(T the 
island by Indians, but other settlers managed to establish permanent 
homes by 1852. 

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the largest island on the 
west coast of North America, is from 40 to 80 miles wide and 285 
miles long. It is linked by a submerged mountain range with the 
Queen Charlotte Islands. Like the rest of this country it is densely 
wooded, and has large coal deposits, some copper and iron. Farming 
is carried on in the valleys of the interior and parts of the southern 
coast. Fishing is of major importance. 

Admiral de Fonte had given a circumstantial account of sailing 
through the Straits of Anian in 1640. On his third voyage Captain 
James Cook sought this passage, and although he failed, discovered 
Nootka, on Vancouver Island, where Spaniards later built a fort, com- 
manded by Bodega y Quadra in 1792. The Fraser River gold rush of 
1858 made Nootka briefly a boom town. 

The island was named for George Vancouver (1757-1798), British 
naval officer, who commanded an exploring expedition to the north- 
west coast of America. Shipping at the age of thirteen as able seaman 
aboard Captain Cook's Resolution, he rose to be midshipman on the 
Discovery and finally to be Cook's right-hand man. In 1791 he was 
made master of the armed sloop Discovery, 330 tons, and the cranky 
little armed tender Chatham, 135 tons, to head an expedition to 
Nootka Sound "to receive back in form the territory which the 
Spaniards had seized, and also to make an accurate survey of the 
coast northward from the 30th degree of north latitude." On April i, 
1791, Vancouver sailed from Falmouth. In 1792, after exploring parts 
of Australia, New Zealand, and the Hawaiian Islands, he investigated 
the strait of San Juan de Fuca, discovered the Gulf of Georgia, and 
sailed away to circle the large island which now bears his name. On 
his second trip north in April, 179^, Vancouver sought the northwest 
passage much farther to the north. Returning from Cook Inlet by 
way of Cross Sound, and thence south through the Inside Passage, 
homesick and physically ailing, the explorer claimed the whole terri- 
tory for England, naming it New Norfolk. Today Alaska maps no 


longer bear this name, but Berners Bay reminds the world of Van- 
couver's mother, and Norfolk folk and Norfolk towns are remem- 
bered in such designations as Port Snettisham, Port Houghton, Halk- 
horn Bay, Point Coke, Adtley, Windham, Hobart, Walpole. Van- 
couver returned to England in 1795, and for three years worked upon 
his journal of discovery, published posthumously by his brother John 
in 1798. 

Fraser River, near the boundary between Canada and the State 
of Washington, is navigable for large boats to North Westminster, 
15 miles from its mouth. The Spanish navigator Valdes discovered 
the river in 1792, and Alexander Mackenzie navigated it the follow- 
ing year, believing it to be the Columbia. Simon Fraser, the son of a 
noted American Tory, became a partner in the Northwest Fur Trad- 
ing Company at the age of twenty-six, and in 1805 was sent to build 
fur-trading posts west of the Rockies. Three years later he descended 
the river, and, discovering it was not the Columbia after all, named it 
for himself. 

Vancouver, British Columbia (p.o., 246,593 pop.), about 15 miles 
north of the international boundary and about 150 miles north of 
Seattle, the terminus of the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National 
Railway systems, is at one of the three angles of the "scenic 
triangle," the other angles of which are at Prince Rupert, near the 
Alaska boundary, and at Jasper National Park in the province of 
Alberta. This is a departure point for Alaska-bound Canadian vessels 
(Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway S.S. com- 
panies), but American passenger steamers do not stop here. The 
Greater Vancouver Tourist Association, 596 West Georgia Street, will 
supply free maps, guides, and general information to tourists. 

Vessels usually anchor at the mouth of Seymour Narrows, 1V2 
miles long and less than a half mile wide, and wait for slack tide, 
which lasts about twenty minutes. Many boats have been wrecked on 
Ripple Rock. The Indians believe the Narrows to be the home of an 
evil spirit, Yakulta, who overturns canoes and devours their occupants. 
Beyond Seymour Narrows is Johnstone Strait, a channel nearly 
sixty miles long with high mountains on either side. 

Albert Bay (p.o.), on the right hand side about midway in John- 
stone Strait, has a single street of frame buildings inhabited largely 
by Cheslakee Indians. It contains many fine totems. There is an 

1 22 T H K L A S T F R O N T I E R 

Indian burial ground on the south point of the bay, decorated with 
streamers and flags and grave-fences. The Indians still use dugout 
canoes, hollowed with fire and adze. Airplanes cnroute from Seattle 
to Ketchikan often stop here to refuel. 

Queen Charlotte Sound connects the Inside Passage with the 
Pacific, and for about fifty miles the steamer is in open water. Here 
for a few hours passengers may feel for the first time the motion 
usual on an ocean voyage. Soon the steamer passes Fitzhugh Sound 
and again furrows what appears to be endless narrow rivers flowing 
between mountains timbered to the water's edge. 

On the left is passed Bella Bella (p.o.), an old Hudson's Bay 
Company post. An hour later Millbank Sound, another open stretch 
of about an hour's duration, is reached, and the steamer enters Tolmie 
Channel, in many places less than a mile wide. Boat Bluff, in 
Tolmie Channel, is a favorite crossing for wild animals, and bear 
and deer may often be seen swimming close to the steamer. The 
channel here is lined with thousands of waterfalls tumbling over 
the wooded clififs, and behind them are unnamed mountanis, from 
three to five thousand feet high. On the right is passed the village of 
Swanson Bay (p.o.). 

Grenville Channel, named by Vancouver after Lord Grenville, 
secretary of state, who gave him his commission for the Northwest 
Expedition, is perhaps the most magnificent channel of the Inside 

At Chatham Sound the open Pacific again stretches through 
Dixon Entrance to the inner channel. Warm air borne by the Japan 
Current thrusts against the cold mountain air, and heavy banks of 
fog lie solidly on the water and are caught in the branches of the 
spruce forest. Here ferns and bushes grow as in a hothouse. 

The Skeena River is paralleled by the Canadian National Rail- 
way. The Native name means "river of trouble," as many Indians 
were killed by poisonous shell fish near its mouth. The Tsimshian 
Indians consider the country around the Skeena as the cradle of the 
human race, and many of their legends are told with this river as a 

On the right is Prince Rupert, B.C. (p.o., 6,50opop. est. 1938), 
first settled in 1907 on an island near the mouth of the Skeena River, 



.N 1740, a year before Bering sailed on his great voyage 
to Alaska, when the Pacific north of 47° was an unknown world, 
Jonathan Swift published a map of North America which was a curi- 
ously accurate forecast of facts which were not to be established for 
fifty years. In 1752 the house of De Lisle, with full knowledge of 
Bering's voyages (one of the De Lisle brothers had been astronomer 
on the expedition) published a map of the northern Pacific which 
is strikingly inaccurate. The cartographers believed the accounts of 
the Admiral de Fonte and Juan de Fuca were more trustworthy 
than Bering's reckonings — or the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver. 
There were sea captains in 1752 who knew the Pacific better than the 
De Lisle brothers, but this map remained in vogue until near the end 
of the century, probably because it fed the hope for a northwest 
passage or short cut to the Indies. 

During that time, Russian fur traders, without the help of maps, 
made their way along the islands to the mainland, subjugating the 
native tribes and almost exterminating many species of sea animals. 
In 1867 Alaska passed into the possession of the United States; but it 
remained largely unexplored territory — a land of Indians and fur 
animals — until the discovery of gold at the end of the nineteenth 

Gold drew prospectors by the tens of thousands. When these did 
not find a fortune in the known fields they moved on into the un- 
charted wilderness. It was the prospector who discovered the great 
interior of Alaska and blazed its trails. After him came well equipped 
expeditions which mapped the Territory. In a short time a communica- 
tions system had been established and heavy machinery was being put 
to work. Twentieth century methods of mass production were intro- 
duced. In 1938 more than thirty-six thousand summer visitors were 
discovering that Alaska was the ideal vacation land — a spectacularly 
beautiful country of glaciers and snow-capped mountains, big-game 
hunting and sport fishing, that was also America with American 
speech, American food, American ways. 

yr^//./^/.^./? ./J/. 

?^ O R T H 


$tc^^^ C.Biaoco^ 

£& StSebaftia 






MVj7 Coast of North Ameruu 
by Jonathan Stvijt, ly^o 

i^KdccWc a M.Rotin le' c 

n xxxi~thud*^—tu trm 

'I'hc l)c Lisle Map of the Xoil/j Pacific, ly^H 

«■*»«» W»7Sl> AffcSn 




above: Interior uii Xuutl^a Sound 
below: Hunting Walruses 



Tiie Hbove illustration is a correct reproduction of tlie only AL.\hi>.A 
FREIGHT SLHD on the market. This is made from a pattern fnrnished by 
■^ ,- .cntleinau \s ho took the United States census in Alaska, ana is a reprodu.- 
■ . ,:\^i>{ the one that he used in traveling thousands of miles when taking tlu- 
, ;;su-, and m which he carried his oiitfit and pro%-Jsions. 

The slc<l is much larger and stronger than the "Yukon Miner's" sled. 
I: is made entirelv of oak, and at the joints, instead of l>eing riveted, it is 
::ior'.ised and lashed with rawhide so that there is not the same liability of 
i rcakage as there would be if bolted together. The top hamper is made of 
oak interlaced with rawhide and tarred marline. 

This sled is not an experiment. It is the kind the natives use, and will bi- 
found invaiiiabie for transporting all kinds of merchandise. It is inteiuU-d to 
ht used for a dog team or to be hauled by hand. The weight is approximately 
75 pounds. Its carrying capacity varies from to 1,500 pounds, according 
to the material transported. We are the only manufacturers of this kind of 
sled. Trice is $y> each. 

BAKER & HAMILTON, Sar Franci.sco. 

ojor the Yukon!! 




OLD .Scales ami Weights, Gold 
Wash Pans (Russian Iron 
and Polished Iron i, Gold 
Dust Hlowers, Miners' Hums of 
all kinds, Prospecting Picks, Gold 
W.T.shers or Rockers. Horseshoe 
M,ii;nets, Iron Mortars, Magnify- 
ing Olasses, Quicksilver, Crucibles. 
Acids, Chemicals, etc., including 
full supplies for .■\ssayers, and 
Materials and Chemicals for quartz 
mill-, etc. 


63 First Stre«t, San Francisco. Cal. 

Inporters and Deatert in Aieayen' Mittrltis, Mint and Mill Sappliet, «tc 

*f ctitest antt largest 
'S ^"Pl'lr Houtf in the 
■asiates. Islatihthut 

Don't forget it or you'll regret it 


P- & M. IV4PER iK a ncccssUv. 

I !• 

A: It. Koofiii];, 

*V 11. Waterproof Palnti*. 

S^araffino SPaint Compant/, 

116 liuucry Slrce,. -S-» V FRaSCISCO. CAL 

Advertisements, i8g8 


«- ^ y-i' /f/ 







V ^ 





above: The Piospcctor above: Signbuiiid 

below: Mountain Climbing Expedition 

above: Ti'lcphoiw Line 
below: Weighing Salmon 

above: Modem Gold-Dredge 
below: Sorting Gold Ore 

above: Tourist Steamer above: Liiwing Lodge {Kernii Peniiisuhi) 

below: Golj Course at .Inehoruge 


and named after the first governor of Hudson's Bay Company. It is 
the western terminus of the Canadian National Railway, and is at the 
northernmost angle of the "scenic triangle." Shipbuilding and fishing 
are the principal industries. North of Prince Rupert is Old Metla- 
KATLA, from which Father Duncan's Tsimshians moved to modern 
Metlakatla, Alaska. 

Hazelton, B.C. (p.o., i,30opop. est. 1938) is above Prince Rupert 
on the Skeena River. It is served by the Canadian National Railway, 
and was in 1938 the furthest point yet reached by the International 
Highway. Hazelton was setded in 1873 and became a Hudson's Bay 
Company post in 1880. It was named for the hazelnut bushes that 
grow abundandy in the neighborhood. The chief industries are min- 
ing, farming, and pole cutting for telegraph companies. Three miles 
east of the townsite, spanning Bulkley River, is an old Indian bridge 
built of wire stolen from the Overland Telegraph (San Francisco to 
London) Company lines. Anyox, B.C. (p.o., i5opop. est. 1938) is a 
mining camp in the copper district south of Stewart, established in 
1914, but closed in 1939. 

Portland Canal was named by Vancouver in 1793. The term 
"canal" is commonly used in these waters to designate a natural chan- 
nel. Pordand Canal marks the boundary between British Columbia and 
Alaska. The United States claimed, under its treaty with Russia, a 
boundary line running up Portland Canal to the 56th parallel of north 
latitude, thence to follow the summit of the coast range to its inter- 
section with the 141st meridian. In the absence of a definite mountain 
range near the coast, the Hne was to be not more than ten marine 
leagues distant from tidewater. Canada claimed that the line should 
cut across all inlets and fiords to afford her right of free access to the 
sea by rivers and inlets lying chiefly in Canadian territory. The ques- 
tion became acute after the opening of the Klondike, and was sub- 
mitted to a tribunal of three Americans, two Canadians, and one 
Englishman, which met in London in 1903. The tribunal's vote was 
four to two for the United States, the Lord Chief Justice of England, 
Lord Alverstone, casting his vote with the Americans. The Canadian 
members refused to sign the decision. 

Writing an account of the hardships encountered surveying the 
boundary line, the chief of the United States party, later to become 
governor of Alaska, oddly forecast present-day aerial mapping. "On 


the maps," wrote Thomas Riggs, Jr., in 1909, "ihc boundary is shown 
all along by nice liulc dotted lines, but the work of putting this line 
on the ground is still in progress, and both American and Canadian 
surveyors are putting forth their best efforts to establish a boundary 
which will stand the test of time; so that when a hundred years 
hence the engineer of the period throws in his equilibrium clutch, 
turns on the gravity and air-current absorber, and brings his huge 
dirigible to a stop above some one of our stations, he may look 
through his improved surveying instruments along the vista from the 
Arctic to Mt. St. Elias and pronounce the line laid out by the old- 
timers straight and good." Although our modern planes have neither 
"equilibrium clutch" nor "gravity absorber," their "improved survey- 
ing instruments" — the aerial camera — can be used only because such 
pioneers as Thomas Riggs fixed accurate ground points that can be 
used to key photographic maps. 


At the head of Portland Canal, about 150 miles northeast of 
Ketchikan, is the town of Hyder (p.o., 254 pop., mostly Native), 
reached by boat from Ketchikan. Just across the international boun- 
dary line from Stewart, B.C., Hyder was named in honor of a Cana- 
dian scientist in 1910. The Big Missouri and Premier mines are near 
here on Canadian territory. The country is unrivaled for its scenic 
beauty, with 30 miles of continuous glacier lying among mountains 
which have been little explored. An extraordinary story of tunneling 
under these glaciers is told by miners who claim to have been on the 
track of some high-grade electrum — an alloy containing about two 
ounces of silver to one of gold, assaying $14,000 to the ton. 

"A gasoline-burning boiler was set up on a sled. The boiler was 
only about five feet high, so we could drag it under the ice after us. 
By carrying the outlet pipes through the stack we super-heated the 
steam. Our cutter was made of three-eighth-inch pipes in three-foot 
lengths, T-shaped, with a long line of small holes through the top 
of the T for the escape of the steam. 

"The top of the T was about three feet long. When we held it 
against the ice the steam melted a three-foot crack in the ice and 
we thus cut out six blocks in the face of the tunnel, each three feet 
square. To cut out the back of the block we turned the pipe so that 


the Steam would play down. All we had to do was to push the block 
on to a little sled. Gravity carried the sled out to the mouth of the 
tunnel. Then, when a rope stopped the sled with a jerk, the cake of 
ice would bounce off and go tumbling down the mountainside. 

"At the mouth of the tunnel, for some distance, the light would 
filter through the ice and into the hole, and the ice would take on 
beautiful shades of blue and green. Later only the ultraviolet rays 
found their way through and eventually we worked in the dark, 
only carbide lamps supplying us with light. 

"The floor of the glacier dipped and rose, and occasionally we'd 
encounter pools of water. During warmer periods we'd hear torrents 
of water which came from surface melting, rushing under the ice. 
The temperature of the tunnel remained at just a degree above the 
freezing point the year around, so it was not as cold as one might 
think. Scientists explain this as due to pressure of the ice and friction 
created as it creeps over the rock. 

"The ice cap was moving all the time, of course, but the move- 
ment was not visible to us. A duckboard which we used to cross a 
crevasse and which fell into it in July, 1930, was recovered when it 
emerged, intact, at the face of the ice, no feet distant, in July, 1936. 
At another time the glacier gave up the body of a mountain goat, 
with hide and horns intact, very little worse for the years it must have 
been in cold storage. 

"At places we'd come to little open places under the ice, espe- 
cially where the ice flow was from over the top of a bluflf. Here there 
would be a room, much like that you would find under the curtain of 
a waterfall. Occasionally the bottom of the glacier would be lifted 
clear oflf the floor so one could crawl under the ice for a hundred 
feet or more. Under the glacier we'd have an ominous feeling of 
danger, especially if we had to pick away enough ice to make room 
to lie down. We'd think of all those thousands of tons of ice above us. 
The knowledge that, if the ice cap should settle ever so little, we 
would be pinned under it and crushed, often made us quiver. By 
picking at the tunnel face with our pick, we'd relieve that terrific 
pressure ever so little and the ice would crack with a singing sound 
much like the song of a bird. It would send chills down our spine 
for fear that the glacier above us would give way. Whenever the ice 
would sing like that we'd say we had 'hit a birdie.' 

"We worked in this manner for four seasons, until the spring of 


1933. I've got the location marked by triangulation from several points 
on the solid rock beside the glacier, and I'm getting ready to go in 
with another outfit for further development. 

"Of course, I don't know how much of the rich stufi there is there, 
but even if there's only a few thousand pounds, it will be worth while. 
Then I suppose they'll be calling me a lucky fool." 

Metlakatla (p.o., 466 pop.) is a cooperative Indian village estab- 
lished in 1887 on Annette Island about 15 miles south of Ketchikan. 
Through steamers do not ordinarily stop here, but the town is readily 
accessible by launch from Ketchikan. 

Prior to 1887 these Indians lived at Metlakatla, B.C., with their 
pastor William Duncan, a Scottish lay preacher sent from London 
to the Indians of British Columbia by a missionary society under the 
auspices of the Church of England. He arrived at Fort Simpson, B.C., 
on October 2, 1857. He began immediately to study the language of 
the Tsimshian Indians and was soon preaching in their own tongue. 
Within a short period after his arrival he left the fort to live among 
the Indians and established a model village, called Metlakatla. Under 
his guidance the Indians built themselves comfortable homes, devel- 
oped a trade with neighboring tribes and with the whites, and estab- 
lished a store and sawmill. 

For a period of twenty years the settlement prospered. Contro- 
versies then arose between Duncan and the authorities of the Estab- 
lished Church and Duncan was replaced by Bishop Ridley. In a short 
time the Bishop was asking for a man-of-war to protect him from his 
flock. In 1887 some four hundred Indians, principally of the Tsimshian 
tribe, left British Columbia and settled on Annette Island with their 
beloved pastor. Duncan had visited the United States and urged 
influential citizens and government officials to secure Congressional 
legislation setting aside Annette Island as a reservation. This was done 
by the act of March 4, 1891. In addition to their land reservation, the 
Metlakatlans have today exclusive fishing rights in all waters within 
3,000 feet of the shores of the island. They also have, and use, the 
privilege of fishing in other areas throughout the Territory in com- 
petition with Natives who have no similar exclusive rights. 

Duncan began anew the efforts which had made his colony in 
British Columbia so remarkable a success. Streets were laid out; lots 
set aside for occupancy of individual Indians; comfortable homes 


erected; a church constructed — the largest in Alaska; a sawmill estab- 
lished; a salmon cannery built and put into operation; and a school 
established for the Indian children. 

Duncan remained at Metlakatla until his death in 1918. During 
the last few years of his life the operation of the school and salmon 
cannery were taken over by the Federal government. The colony today 
has one of the most developed cooperatives of any Indian group in 
North America. 

Metlakatla lives by fishing and fish canning, the products of its 
sawmill, boat building, and retail trade. 

The present Metlakatla salmon cannery has been in operation since 
1917. It was built from the royalties received from the fish caught in 
traps operating in the reserved waters around Annette Island. The 
cannery has been improved into a modern three-line cannery. The 
cannery buildings, machinery (with the exception of some which is 
leased) and other equipment belong to the people of the reserve in 
common. Since 1917, the cannery has been leased by the Metlakatla 
Council, through the secretary of the interior, for periods of five 
years each. 

During a good salmon-canning season (1936) there were twenty- 
one Metlakatla seine boats, fishing for the local cannery. From eighty 
to a hundred men operated these boats, catching fish worth $67,200. 
Metlakatlans engage in trolling for king salmon — a conservative esti- 
mate of the net returns to the town for the year's operation would 
be $85,000. 

The sawmill, with a capacity of about 10,000 board feet of lumber 
per day, is the common property of the village and is under the super- 
vision of the Town Council. Any townsman who needs lumber can 
go out on the island and haul in his own logs and, by paying a small 
sum to the men operating the mill, can have his lumber sawed and 

In the fall of 1927 the town completed a hydroelectric plant which 
furnishes electricity for light and power to everyone in the village 
without charge. The water system is also owned by the town, and 
every inhabitant in the village is furnished free water. 

Boats are built at Metlakatla, from the round-bottom 14- to 16- 
foot trolling boats to seine boats up to 50 feet in length. The com- 
munity hall, a structure 70 by 120 feet, was designed by the mayor, 
David Leask, and built by the villagers, except for the arch of the 

1 28 T H E L A S T F R O N T I E R 

Stage, the chimney, and the furnace. It was completed and dedicated 
in December, 1931. A good part of the work was done by free labor; 
the rest of the labor and the materials was paid for out of the town's 
share of the cannery earnings. There are five Native-owned and profit- 
ably operated, general merchandise stores in the town. 

Ketchikan (p.o., 4,8oopop. est. 1938), the first Alaska community 
usually visited by tourists, and the second largest town in Alaska, is a 
leading port and an important fishing center on the west coast of 
Revillagicedo Island. The island is separated from the mainland by 
Behm Canal, and was named by Vancouver in 1793 after the Viceroy 
of Mexico, Revilla Gigedo. 

The harbor is crowded with the masts of hundreds of fishing 
vessels that make their home port here. The town itself is built against 
Deer Mountain (3,000 alt.), and the neighboring hill, and is divided 
by a waterfall. Its buildings are largely of spruce or cedar. Many of 
the sidewalks are of heavy planking weathered to a soft silver, cleated 
on one side. A sunny July day here is like a July day in Maine or 
Minnesota — hot, clear sun, air with a hint of coolness, the smell of 
spruce. Front and back yards are full of flowers — delphiniums eight 
or nine feet high, handsome rock gardens, pansies big as saucers with 
bold eyes looking as if they were about to wink at the passer-by. This 
Alaska atmosphere was not enough for a Hollywood movie director 
when he made use of Ketchikan for local color in 1936. The director 
placed totem poles on the Main-Mission Street intersection, hung polar 
bear skins on the Coliseum Theater over salty kegs, draped fish netting 
over two gray skifTs in front of Ye Curio Shoppe, and moved such 
outstanding evidences of civilization as "No Parking" signs out of 
camera range. 

Ketchikan is in the heart of the vast Tongass National Forest. 
The climate is mild, with an average annual temperature of 45°. 
Very little snow falls here, but the total yearly rainfall, if it descended 
all at once, would cover the town to a depth of about 12V2 feet. 
Ketchikan has 24 miles of highway, not including city streets, and 
about 450 automobiles. Municipally owned utilities include telephone, 
electric light, and power and water systems. No gas is used, but elec- 
tric ranges are found in nearly half the homes. There is a modern 
business section. The schools care for 930 pupils, and the high school 
is accredited to the principal universities. Churches in Ketchikan, in- 


elude the Methodist-Episcopal, Episcopal, Catholic, Lutheran, Presby- 
terian, Christian Scientist, and Seventh Day Adventist; and there is a 
hospital operated by Catholic sisters. There is a large number of civic, 
fraternal, and labor organizations. Ketchikan is governed by a mayor 
and six councilmen, and has a volunteer fire department of thirty-five 
members. A Federal building, completed in 1938, houses many Federal 

The town's Indian name, Kach Khanna, is supposed to mean 
"spread wings of prostrate eagle." During the gold rush of the 1890's 
Ketchikan was a supply point and center for miners; since then hali- 
but and salmon fishing have been the major industries. Gold mining 
has again assumed importance in recent years. 

From Ketchikan harbor, a protected anchorage with a stone break- 
water 940 feet long completed in 1933 at a cost of $225,000, halibut 
vessels making Ketchikan their outfitting port catch twenty to thirty 
million of the forty-five million pounds of halibut that are landed 
annually on the Pacific Coast, selling most of the catch in southern 
ports. Halibut livers, yielding an oil high in Vitamin D content, are 
a valuable by-product. Trollers fish for king salmon and silver salmon; 
and some sable fish and other varieties of cod are caught. The nine 
canneries on the road running through Ketchikan and along Tongass 
Narrows pack annually from 300,000 to 500,000 forty-eight-can cases 
of salmon. 

In 1865 the first salmon cannery was built on the Pacific coast, a 
very crude affair. The cans were made by hand and only a few dozen 
could be turned out in a day. These cans were of the old style with 
the ends soldered to the body of the cans. The fish were cleaned, cut 
into pieces, and put into the cans by hand. The cooking, sealing, and 
labeling processes were long ones, and the final product was far 
inferior to the delicious canned salmon of today. 

Salmon canneries were operating in Alaska as early as 1878. All 
labor and supplies had to be shipped from the States, and the trip 
made by sailing vessel. From a month to six weeks were necessary 
to reach the fishing grounds. In 1879 two Alaska canneries packed 
12,530 cases. 

Great progress has been made in the methods used since the first 
salmon were packed on the Pacific Coast. Instead of transporting men 
and supplies to the canneries by sailing vessels, large steamships make 
regular trips to the farthest points in Alaska in a matter of days. 


Cans are now manufactured by machinery and shipped in collapsible 
form; at the cannery they are rounded out, filled, and sealed by 
machinery. In 1936 a one-line cannery in Alaska, during continuous 
19-hour operation, packed 3,700 cases, or an average of 138 cans per 

In addition to the salmon which is canned, millions of pounds of 
fish are frozen in Ketchikan each year — halibut, salmon, cod, for food, 
and herring for bait. The Ketchikan cold-storage plant may be visited 
on application to the office. 

Published in Ketchikan are the monthly Alaska Sportsman (15 
cents a copy, $1.50 a year), a well-edited and lavishly illustrated 
magazine containing articles of interest to the visitor as well as to the 
sportsman, the Ketchikan- Alas l{a Chronicle (daily, 5 cents, Saturday, 
10 cents), and the Alasl^a Fishing News (bi-weekly, 5 cents). 

At the falls of Ketchikan Creek from the latter part of July to 
October salmon may be seen climbing the fish ladder. An hour's 
walk along the boardwalk beside the old flume leads to City Park 
and to Ketchikan Lake, source of city water. Beyond the ball park is 
the Native School. 

A new road developed by the Forest Service in cooperation with 
the CCC leads to Ward's Cove, a picnicking and camping area for 
Ketchikan residents near two lakes. The cove was named for W. W. 
Waud of Portland, Oregon, who established a saltery here in 1883-4 
and was drowned near by in 1892. There is some fishing in the lakes, 
but much better fishing is to be had at Lake Perseverance (reached 
by trail from the Ward's Cove road). Chinese pheasants have been 
stocked by the Alaska Sportsmen's Association in the Ward's Cove 
area, and deer and bear are frequently seen. There is a ski course on 
the trail to Lake Perseverance. A rifle range is being constructed by 
the CCC in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alasl{a 

Among the more interesting totem poles to be seen at Ketchikan 
are the Kyan totem outside Pioneers' Hall, the Johnson totem in 
Indiantown, six totems brought from neighboring villages to the 
baseball park, and a totem at the Native village of Saxman (ii2pop.), 
two miles southeast of Ketchikan on the northeast shore of Tongass 

The word totem is derived from a Chippewa word, the root signi- 


fying "village." Among the Indians of the northwest the totem sym- 
bols were the possession of specific clans. One clan might have several 
symbols or crests. Any member of the clan, of sufficiently high rank, 
might use any of these at will. The possession of a totem or crest 
is usually accounted for by an encounter of a member of the clan 
with the animal of the crest, in which the animal probably assisted 
the man in some way. But crests might be acquired in other ways. 
Sometimes at a feast a host would honor a guest by giving him a 
crest of his own. Names were sometimes acquired in the same way. 
Once, at such a feast, not enough food was supplied to satisfy some 
of the guests; in retaliation they took three or four names from the 
house. Among the Tlingit Indians personal names were usually de- 
rived from the clan crest; Raven might be called "Silver Eyes," or 
Bear, "Shaggy." This practice was not universal and was not observed 
by the Haida. 

The totem signs were largely heraldic but were also connected 
with the Native mythology. They were the Indian coats of arms, and 
were painted or engraved on the walls and posts of the communal 
houses, on canoes, on chests or boxes containing the winter supply of 
food, and on almost every article in daily use. 

There were two principal types of totem poles: the house post, 
showing the crests of a house owner and his wife; and the grave post, 
or memorial column. The carver of an ordinary totem pole received 
for his work 100 to 250 blankets costing three dollars each. Some of 
the larger specimens cost one thousand dollars or more. The carving 
of a totem was a big undertaking. A perfect tree was selected and, 
after being hollowed out by fire, was drawn through the forest to the 
site where the actual carving was done. Many gifts were made to the 
artisans, and there was much feasting and dancing. The poles were 
shaped with the Native adze and simple carving tools, the latter made 
to cut toward the operator, not from him. 

Wacker (p.o., 57pop.), a Native settlement 20 m. northeast of 
Ketchikan, on Revillagigedo Island, is a fishing village with a general 
store. LoRiNG (40 pop. est. 1938), 20 m. north of Ketchikan, grew up 
around a salmon cannery established in 1885 and abandoned in 1930. 
It is visited by trout fishers from Ketchikan. An automobile road from 
Ketchikan to Loring was under construction in 1938. There are several 
abandoned Native burial grounds in the vicinity. 


Torty-five miles north of Ketchikan is Bell Island (2,50oalt.), 
named by Vancouver in 1793 for a member of his party. At the hot 
springs (on a cove reached by launch from Ketchikan) is a health 
resort, Health Springs, with furnished cottages, and a hotel con- 
taining a post office (Bell Island) and a general store, all heated by 
hot water from the springs. 

The property of the springs was taken up as a homestead in 1902 
by George Roe, who erected a bathhouse and a number of cabins 
along a boardwalk extending to a landing place opposite the boat 
anchorage and developed the springs as a resort. Since 1924 the springs 
have been the property of Miss A. M. Herrington, the present manager. 

The principal spring issues at the north edge of a small creek about 
400 yards from and fifteen feet above high-tide limit in the narrow 
cove into which the creek empties. 

The rock surface at the springs has been concreted into five basins, 
each about four feet deep, the largest being about three by ten feet 
in width and length. Observed temperatures of the water in the several 
basins range from 125° to 162°. The total flow of the five basins is 
about eight or ten gallons a minute. The water is high in mineral 
content, and of the sodium chloride type, though sulphate is also pres- 
ent in amount secondary only to the chloride. Cold water is also 
obtained from the springs by conducting it through grate-like pipes 
laid on the bottom of the cold-water creek, and leading it into a tank 

Myers Chuck (p.o., 50 pop. est. 1938) is 80 miles northwest of 
Ketchikan on Clarence Strait. It is a fishing and mining village and 
was named for a prospector who found his food in these woods. 

Wrangell (p.o., 948 pop.) curves in a crescent along Etolin Bay 
(now Wrangell Harbor) on the north side of Wrangell Island. It is 
about 8 miles south of the Stikine River and about 89 miles northwest 
of Ketchikan. In 1936 a mooring basin was dredged and a breakwater 
completed at a total cost of $81,000. The principal industries are lum- 
bering and fur farming; and near by at Burnet Inlet, Santa Ana and 
Lake Bay are salmon-fishing centers. The population in 1938 was 
estimated at 700 white and 300 Native. There is a public school, a 
hospital, Catholic, Episcopal and Presbyterian churches, and a Salva- 
tion Army post. The Wrangell Sentinel (weekly, 15 cents) is pub- 
lished here. 


Etolin Bay was surveyed in 1834 by Captain Zarembo and named 
by him after Captain Adolph Karlovich Etolin, who in 1841 became 
director of the Russian America Company. Wrangell Island was 
named for Vice-Admiral Baron Ferdinand Petrovich vori Wrangell. 

Wrangell at first appears to be a crude frontier town, with its 
single main street, lined with frame stores and dwellings, leading left 
uphill to the houses of the more prosperous white citizens, right down- 
hill across dreary flats to the huddled wooden huts of the Indian 
village. But this town is less raw and new than it seems: it is haunted 
by the centuries-old tradition of the great and warlike Stickine Indians, 
one of the great Tlingit tribes, beside which the hundred-year history 
of white domination seems like an episode. 

In 1834 the Russians built a fort here to resist the encroachments 
of Hudson's Bay Company traders and named it Redoubt St. Diony- 
sius. In 1867 the United States estabhshed a military post at Fort 
Wrangell, which was abandoned in 1877. That year the Presbyterian 
church at Portland sent Mrs. Amanda McFarland to work among the 
Indians. She was joined the following summer by Dr. Samuel Hall 
Young, and a church of twenty-three members was established in 
August, 1879, The Presbyterians consider this the first Protestant 
church in Alaska. 

Samuel Hall Young was born in 1847 and completed his theological 
training at Princeton in 1878. That year he was sent to Fort Wrangell 
to assist Mrs. McFarland. The following summer the naturahst John 
Muir made his headquarters with Dr. Young at Wrangell. Muir was 
born in Scotland in 1838 and came to the United States in 1849. He 
had explored large areas of western America, spending six years in 
the Yosemite Valley, contributing greatly to scientific knowledge of 
glaciers, and becoming one of the early champions of American con- 
servation of natural resources. He traveled in Alaska during the 
summer of 1879 with Dr. Young, returning in 1880 to explore Glacier 
Bay. In 1881 and 1890 he traveled in the Arctic, and in 1897 in 
northwestern Canada. He was a member of the Harriman Expedition 
in 1899. Here, according to John Burroughs, he was the authority on 
glaciers, "and a thorough one — so thorough that he would not allow 
the rest of the party to have an opinion on the subject." 

During the Klondike rush. Fort Wrangell was the outfitting 
center for miners heading up the Stikine River and using the difhcult 
Teslin River and Pelly Lake route into the Yukon. The town con- 


sisicd, in the words of Muir, oi a "lawless draggle of wooden huts and 
houses built in crooked lines, wrangling around the boggy shore for 
a mile or so in the general form of the letter S." 

Beyond the present Indian village is Chief Shakes' Community 
House (open during steamer hours; admission 25 cents; right from 
the steamer dock, following the waterfront past the sawmill) in which 
has been gathered a remarkable collection of utensils and art objects 
illustrating the social life of the Tlingits. 

The community house was a winter, or permanent home. In sum- 
mer the inmates scattered to difTerent fishing and hunting grounds 
owned by the family. These were just as truly the private property of 
their owners as were the houses. No Indian thought of fishing or 
hunting on the grounds of another family. 

Originally, when a community house was to be erected, a number 
of slaves, in proportion to the chief's wealth, were dropped into the 
holes dug to receive the posts, and then the posts were dropped upon 
the slaves. Samples' of hair from these slaves were kept and fastened 
to dancing sticks and clan hats as a sign of the number sacrificed to 
do the chief honor. The Russians were able to- persuade the Wrangell 
chiefs that an even greater mark of distinction would be to free a 
certain number of slaves instead of killing them on such occasions. 
From that time on, so long as slavery existed, it was the custom in 
Wrangell to free slaves at feasts. 

The house posts were huge trunks of trees, often elaborately carved 
and painted with the family totem. Across these were laid long trees 
reaching the full length of the house. Cedar was the wood commonly 
used. Its soft liber was most suited to carving and splitting with the 
primitive tools the Tlingits and Haidas used, and it is more resistant 
to decay than other Alaska woods. 

Sometimes large totemic designs were painted on the rear wall 
inside the house. There were no windows. The door might be a 
large carved and painted affair, but the actual entrance was usually 
through a low doorway cut in the larger door through which one 
had to stoop. This was probably for protection. Around the walls 
ran an elevated platform. On three sides this formed the living cjuarters 
for the different units of the family. The back wall was usually 
reserved for the boxes which contained the treasures of the family, 
clan hats and ceremonial robes, and valuable relics of all kinds. In the 


center the ground was bare. Here was the place for the central fire, 
and in the roof directly over this was the smoke hole. 

The house, comprising from fifty to a hundred persons, was the 
social unit of the Tlingits. Each house belonged to a clan and its 
members recognized a relation with all members of the clan. Eight to 
fifteen houses belonging to various clans made up a village. But the 
village was a unit only in case of attack. Then the house chiefs 
gathered together and elected one of their number, the war chief. 
This was often a fairly hereditary position, but only becauSt that 
particular chief was best able to be a successful leader, trained for the 
position by his uncle. 

The villages of a given district made up a "tribe." But the geo- 
graphic classification was of more importance to the white man than 
to the Indian, who felt a family bond with all members of his clan 
wherever they might live. Thus thirteen houses made up the Tongas 
"tribe" at Tangac. Seven of these belonged to one Raven clan. Of 
the remaining six houses, four belonged to one Wolf clan and two 
to another. 

Descent was reckoned through the mother. Children belonged to 
her clan and took her name. A man might give away his personal 
property as he pleased, but his natural heirs were not his own children 
but those of his sisters — his own mother's obvious descendants. 

The inmates of a community house were men of one clan (brothers 
and nephews of the chief), and their wives and minor children 
belonged to other clans. The services and earnings of the men of 
the house were the property of the chief, but only as the representative 
of the house. The ceremonial robes, Chilkat blanket, dancing sticks, 
drums, shields, and canoes were family property and descended to 
the nephews with the family names. The question of which nephew 
should succeed to the chiefhood upon the death of a chief was always 
an important one. Not age, but worth was the controlling factor. 
Usually one of the nephews was so outstanding in character that he 
might be said to have been in training for the succession, and there 
would be no dispute. Differences arising out of the descent of the 
name, however, might result in a family division and the starting of 
a new community house. 

Each clan belonged to one of two phratries, the Raven or the 
Wolf-Eagle. Marriage between persons of the same phratry was not 


allowed and was considered incestuous. The pliratry distinction may 
have originated in a racial dillerence, but if so, this was soon lost 
through compulsory intermarriage and it survived as an economic 
cleavage among the Tlingits. The men of each phratry supported the 
women and children of their opposites. When a house had some im- 
portant work to be done, such as burying a chief or erecting a pole, 
they "honored" their opposites by asking them to do this service. 
Hut having put another clan in the proud position of helpers, the 
family honor required that these should be paid liberally. This was 
done by a feast, or potlatch, at which a great deal of property was 
given away. To give property to a member of one's own phratry, 
as the Haida did, or to employ one's own people in important work, 
thereby paying a great deal less for it, was abhorrent to Tlingit 
notions of propriety. 

Among the Tlingits all feasts were for the one purpose of honoring 
the dead, but feasting was not limited to funerals. Sometimes a man 
would dream that his dead uncle came to him and said he was 
■hungry. Then the man would have to give a feast. Once a Wolf 
man complained: "Why don't you spirits work for food and 
blankets? You always want people to give them to you." Soon after 
that he died; but he came back to life and told his people what he 
had seen. He saw lots of people outside on the porches of their 
grave houses. One of them, a chief who had died long ago, spoke to 
him from his porch, saying: "Do you think the spirits are getting 
starved that you talk to us in that way.'' We are not getting starved." 
But whenever a man is going to give a feast for one who has died 
they feel very happy over it there. 

For these feasts parties of guests might travel a long way to their 
hosts' house. Once, as such a party was beaching its canoes in the 
evening the hosts' men came down to help them, bringing their cere- 
monial hats and treasures. They left these with the visitors overnight 
to show that they knew "they would be safe with the guests." In the 
morning the host himself came down to the shore. "He had a bow 
and arrow in his hand and as he came down he kept making the 
motions of letting go an arrow. He did this because he was about 
to spend a great quantity of money and wished to show how brave 
he was." 

During a feast the host stood at the end of the room and the 
guests were lined on opposite sides. Presumably they had been asked 


to the house because the chief was mourning, and during the feasting 
they tried to assuage his grief by songs and dances. The actions of 
each dancer were scrutinized with great care and any httle mistake 
noted and remembered. The strain upon a dancer was consequently 
so great that when a fine dancer died soon after a feast it was said, 
"The peoples' looks have killed him." 

After the feast had gone on for some time the guests invited the 
hosts to join them. Until then the hosts' clan did not eat. Finally it 
was time for them to take up the entertainment. The chief signaled 
his women to put on ceremonial ornaments, thereby showing his 
guests that his grief had passed and he was happy again. 

At the culmination of a feast great quantities of food and blankets 
were distributed among the guests, sometimes as much as $6,000 
worth. Often a child would be placed upon the goods that were to be 
given away. "This was to make him high caste, for it would be after- 
wards said of him that so many blankets were lost to show him." 

The husband was responsible for the care of his wife and young 
children, but on his death they had no claim to his property. Ac- 
cordingly it was the custom for the widow to become the wife of the 
next available male relative of her dead husband, who thereupon 
assumed the support of her and her children. Often this was a much 
younger man. If the woman had passed the age of childbearing, she 
might select a young partner for her young husband, keeping for 
herself merely the status of wife. 

When a boy reached the age of about ten he was sent to his 
mother's brother for rearing. Until that time children were treated 
with an indulgence not approved of in Christian countries. It was 
the uncle's task to strengthen and toughen the child for maturity. 
Uncles would drive their nephews into the icy waters of the rivers 
in winter time. Food was never eaten early in the morning, and to 
this day the old men are scornful of the young ones who have to 
eat breakfast before they go fishing. Wood supplies were never laid in 
for the winter, because it was considered good training for the 
nephews to go to the woods in the depths of winter and cut the neces- 
sary amount each day. 

A girl remained with her mother until marriage. When a marriage 
was to be arranged the boy's uncle went to the girl's mother and said, 
"I value the words I am going to speak at forty blankets. If you 
are willing, kindly accept them." If the mother agreed to the match 


she accepted the blankets, which were currency among the THngits. 
The boy was then admonished by his people. "You must get up 
early and look for your food or in time your wife will want to 
marry someone else and you will be ashamed." Such a calamity 
brought shame on both families, and so a mother preferred to marry 
her daughter to a man with hands "like an eagle's" — strong and 
rough from work. 

The student of ethnology will find many traces of old Tlingit 
culture under the veneer of civilization of the present generation. 
The tourist will look in vain, however, for one picturesque aspect 
of the old life. There are no more community houses. 

Tlingit marriage customs were described with more emotion than 
understanding by Dr. Young when he first came to Alaska. He ap- 
pealed to the churches of America for funds to help him in his 
work "among a people where heathenism crushes out a mother's 
love and turns her heart to stone, where for a few blankets a mother 
will sell her own daughter." 

Before Dr. Young arrived, Sheldon Jackson had complained about 
the community houses "where fifty or sixty men, women and children 
live huddled together, no decency, no modesty, no morality, and no 
sanitation possible." Wrangell Tlingits were taught to use single 
family dwellings by Mrs. Amanda McFarland, pioneer of Presbyterian- 
ism in Alaska. Arriving there in 1877, she found herself the only white 
woman with "a few converted but morally uninstructed Indians and a 
great many heathen about her," and set herself to draw up regu- 
lations for the community life, to the great annoyance of Chief 
Shakes. "I tried to convince him," she wrote, "that I had come up 
there to do him and his people good; and then read him the laws. 
He replied that he would like to know what I had to do with the 
laws, that I had been sent there to teach that school and nothing 
more. . . . He said he supposed that I thought that I was safe, but he 
would advise me to send for the soldiers to come back." 

At this point a convert, Toyatte, spoke to the chief. He reminded 
him of his soul, and warned him that if he died as he was living 
he would certainly be lost. "Shakes replied that he did not care if 
he did go to hell-fire, that his people were all there. He then left 
the meeting. After he was gone the people all signed their names 
(or rather I wrote their names and they made their mark) to the 


rules I had written out. It was now five o'clock. The second day 
was gone, and we adjourned with the doxology." 

Toyatte, who came to Mrs. McFarland's aid, was presumably one 
of the "converted but morally uninstructed." John Muir knew him 
as a guide and describes the circumstances of his death. A quarrel 
between Taku and Wrangell Indians had reached the point of war, 
and both sides began loading their guns. Dr. Young tried in vain 
to prevent the shooting. He found Toyatte among the warriors, and 
pleaded with him to remember his teaching and come away. Toyatte 
replied: "Mr. Young, I am not going to fight. You see I have no gun 
in my hand. But I cannot go inside the fort to a place of safety 
while my young men are exposed to the bullets of their enemies." 
So he charged, unarmed, and fell. 

Early missionaries among the Tlingits often claimed that these 
people had "no moral sense." Anthropologists today tell us that 
"very well-defined moral standards did exist, to which a high caste 
person was especially expected to conform." In many respects these 
standards were closer to the Christian ideal than the accepted practice 
of Christian communities. But for the Thngit, morality was limited 
to human relationships. He did not attribute a moral purpose to the 
universe as a whole. 

Like most primitive people the Tlingits believed the earth was 
flat and the sky a solid vault. The stars were community house fires. 
The earth rested on a post in charge of Old Woman Underneath. 
She was fidgety and often made earthquakes. Near the sky lived 
the Thunder Bird. When he was hunting a whale he brought a 
thunderstorm. Lightning winked from his eyes, and the flap of his 
great wings made the thunder. On his back was a large lake that 
spilled water on the earth. 

The Tlingit talked to inanimate objects, and certain places and 
mountains were always greeted when passed. All glaciers were given a 
friendly word and the sea was asked for favors. When cutting down 
a tree Tlingits would say, "Black bear skins have been laid in the 
place where you are going to fall," but the skins were not actually 
placed there. Halibut lines and hooks were spoken to, so that they 
would not "be ashamed and fail." A man digging for clams would 
say, "Do not go down so fast or you will hit your mother-in-law 
in the face." 

These approaches to the non-human world are comparable to talk- 


ing to dice, and not to prayer as the Christian understands that 
word. The TUngit bcHeved that the universe was made up of certain 
orderly sequences of cause and effect and a great deal of something 
else which he called Y<?^. Yek was essentially unpredictable. It might 
thwart the best laid plans or save the poorest. It is commonly trans- 
lated "the supernatural," but it had no divine attributes such as being 
all-powerful, all-wise, or all-good. It had no real unity and was not 
purposive. The shaman, whose function was to induce or compel 
Yek, was more powerful among the Tlingits than were the medicine 
men of any of the other northwestern people. 

The Tlingits had one word for the spirit of a living man and 
another for the spirit of a corpse. Apparently the first of these sur- 
vived the body, but in a place called Corpse-Spirit Land. There were 
two such places. One was in the sky. Here time passed in a contented 
peace, and when the world got too hard for a living man the spirits 
called him to them. Those who died by violence and were not called 
had to reach this land by their own efforts. This was difficult, and 
practically impossible if the death had not been avenged, in which case 
the spirit blew away. There was a less desirable country under the 
earth, reserved for those who died by drowning. The Tlingits had 
all this on the authority of men who died and came back to life. 

On the shores of Shoemaker Bay is Wraxgell Institute, for which 
an extent of shoreline and five hundred acres of forest land have been 
set aside within Tongass National Forest, one of the two vocational 
boarding schools for Natives maintained by the Federal government. 
(For the other, see Part II, 5, Eklutna.) 

Wrangell Institute was established in 1932 as a coeducational, 
vocational boarding school for Native children. Over one hundred 
boys and girls come from eighteen towns and villages of southeastern 
Alaska, from communities the life of which is based on fishing. Most 
of the pupils are actively engaged at some time during the summer 
on fishing boats or in salmon canneries and earn from fifty to several 
hundred dollars each during the brief fishing season. The Institute 
attempts to bridge the gap between the village elementary school and 
adult life in southeastern Alaska fishing villages for the Natives, 
and as such builds its curriculum around local experiences and needs. 
Thus the students study the natural life of the sea and shore, the vil- 
lage communities and their economic and health problems, business 


accounting, and homemaking with respect to the actual conditions of 
housing and food supply of the average village home. In addition, 
contributory skills are taught: woodworking, building construction, 
boat building, blacksmithing and machine-shop practice, engine in- 
stallation, operation and repair, navigation, and the household arts. 
About a quarter of the time allotted to curricular activities is spent 
by the boys in working on the plant and grounds. 

The Institute is a residential school. Student self-government is 
practiced through the school council and the boys' and girls' dormitory 
organizations. The students also assume responsibility and cooperate 
with staff members in assemblies, control of health and sanitation, 
upkeep of the lighting and heating facilities, student accounts, and 
athletics. The great majority of them step out immediately into mar- 
ried life and adult occupations, and have no further opportunity for 
guided experience in social living. 

Fourteen miles south of Wrangell is long-deserted Stikine Vil- 
lage, once remarkable for its totem poles, most of which have been 
removed to Chief Shakes' House at Wrangell. A few rotten poles 
remain, hopelessly past restoration. Many traditions linger around 
this ancient site of a great Tlingit town, which was probably at the 
summit of its prosperity during the late eighteenth and early nine- 
teenth centuries. One of these tales refers to a battle in the series 
of wars between the Stikines and the Sitkas. Fighting all summer in a 
desultory squabbling way, now under cover, now in the open, watch- 
ing for every chance for a shot, none of the Indians dared venture 
to the salmon streams or berry fields to procure their winter stock 
of food. At this crisis one of the Stikine chiefs came out of his 
blockhouse fort into an open space midway between the fortified 
camps, and shouted that he wished to speak to the leader of the 

When the Sitka chief appeared he said, "My people are hungry. 
They dare not go to the salmon streams or berry fields for winter 
supplies, and if this war goes on much longer most of my people 
will die of hunger. We have fought long enough; let us make peace. 
You brave Sitka warriors go home, and we will go home, and we 
will all set out to dry salmon and berries before it is too late." 

The Sitka chief replied, "You may well say let us stop fighting, 
when you have had the best of it. You have killed ten more of my 


tribe than we have killed of yours. Give us ten Stikine men to balance 
our blood-account; then and not till then will we make peace and go 

"Very well," replied the Stikine chief, "you know my rank. You 
know that I am worth ten common men and more. Take me and 
make peace." The chief stepped forward and was shot down, and 
peace was thus established. 

At the mouth of Stikine River is a small fishing village, Stikine, 
of varying population. Stikine River rises in Britsh Columbia and 
flows across the international boundary into the waters of the archi- 
pelago. Its name, an Indian word, means "great river." The breakup 
of the Stikine is awaited eagerly each spring by prospectors and 
miners, who board the boat of the Harrington Transportation Com- 
pany and head up the river for the Interior via Telegraph Creek. 
No less eagerly does the little settlement at the head of the Stikine 
await the arrival of the first boat, with food supplies and fresh fruit 
and vegetables. The boats are especially constructed for shallow water, 
with sloping bows that make it possible to tie up almost anywhere 
along the shore. One of the great drawbacks to navigation on the 
Stikine is the constant variation of water level between its mouth and 
Telegraph Creek. Rains below the canyon may swell the lower river 
to flood stage, while above the cleft in the coast range the water may 
remain perilously low. 

During a trip up the Stikine in 1879 John Muir counted over a 
hundred glaciers along the walls of the canyon, and from Glenora 
Peak, overlooking 300 miles of coast range, he counted 200 more. 
The largest was the Big Stikine. "Standing in the gateway of this 
glorious temple," wrote Muir, "... its outlines may be easily traced, 
the water foreground of a pale-green color, a smooth mirror sheet 
sweeping back five or six miles . . . bounded at the head by a leveled 
barrier of bluish-white ice four or five hundred feet high. A few 
snowy mountain tops appear beyond it, and on either hand rises a 
series of majestic pale-gray granite rocks from 3,000 to 4,000 feet high, 
some of them thinly forested and striped with bushes and flowery 
grass on narrow shelves . . . others severely sheer and bare and built 
together into walls like those of Yosemite, extending far beyond the 
ice barrier, one immense brow appearing beyond another with their 
bases buried in the glacier." 


On the west bank of Stikine River was Dirt Glacier, so named by 
Hunter in iS77, but now known as Mud Glacier. "Its surface for a 
mile or so above the front is strewn with moraine detritus, giving it a 
strangely dirty, dusky look, hence its name. ... I was surprised to 
find alpine plants growing on the ice, fresh and green, some of 
them in full flower." 

South of Wrangell by way of Stikine Strait is Prince of Wales 
Island (reached by motor launch from Ketchikan or Wrangell), the 
home of most of the Haida Indians in Alaska. Their principal towns 
are Hydaburg (p.o., 319 pop.) and Kasaan (p.o., 112 pop.). 

The historic aboriginal ruins of the former Haida village known 
as Old Kasaan were set aside as a national monument by proclamation 
of President Wilson, October 25, 1916. The monument covers twenty- 
eight acres on the east side of Prince of Wales Island, at Skowl 
Arm, so named for a former chief of the village. It is reached by 
launch from Ketchikan, 30 miles distant. The ruins — totem poles, 
grave houses, monuments, and portions of the original framework of 
buildings — represent a distinctive type of aboriginal American civiliza- 
tion, the vestiges of which are rapidly disappearing. 

Old Kasaan village was built by Indians of the Haida tribe of 
British Columbia, who had their principal residence in the Queen 
Charlotte Islands. Several generations ago they migrated northward 
into the region of the Tlingits. The Haidas, together with the 
Tsimshians, likewise a British Columbia tribe, settled on different 
islands in the southern part of what is now the Tongass National 
Forest at favorable spots where they could find small areas of open 
beach upon which to build their villages. Each village consisted of 
one or more rows of low frame buildings erected along the shore 
just above high-water mark and facing the open water. The buildings 
were well constructed out of spruce and cedar planks and huge round 
timbers laboriously hewn out of the log by stone or shell implements. 
The marks of their primitive tools can be seen on all well-preserved 
totem poles and remnants of buildings. The building material was 
cleverly put together by notches and grooves cut into the edges of the 
planks, and along the framing timbers in tongue-and-groove fashion, 
thus insuring weather-tight, as well as very substantial, structures. 
Such methods were characteristic of the true type of aboriginal struc- 
ture, and their general form and appearance were distinctive. After 


ilic country was occupied by ihc white man and lumber and nails 
could be secured, the buildings erected (before the villages were finally 
abandoned) were often a poor attempt to imitate the ty[>c of residence 
occupied by the Native's white neighbors. 

Practically all of the village sites still contain some of the relics 
of their former occupancy, such as groups of carved totem poles, 
grave houses and monuments, and occasionally portions of the orig- 
inal framework of a building. The villages were abandoned shortly 
after Alaska began to develop, and towns and cannery settlements 
were built by Americans. At the time little thought or attention was 
given to the intrinsic historical or archeological value of these villages. 
The Native, before he learned the mercenary ways of the whites, 
trustingly left many of his personal belongings in his ancestral home. 
These consisted of finely carved or decorated articles of wood, bone, 
shell, and sometimes metal, used in cookery and other household 
duties, for feasts and dances, religious rites, marriage and death cere- 
monials, war equipment, etc. The curio stores of Seattle and other 
cities on the Pacific Coast were filled with a hodgepodge of valuable 
material taken from the villages of the Indians of Alaska. 

Old Kasaan originally occupied a clearing, extending for a dis- 
tance of six or seven hundred feet along a gravelly shore and covering 
a gently rising slope some three hundred feet back to a dense virgin 
forest. The first row of houses was immediately above high tide, so 
that the poles in front must have been splashed by the waves during 
stormy weather. Evidences are found of at least twenty fair-sized 
houses, but the size of the clearing indicates that there must have 
been more. At the west end of the front row of houses and really 
forming a part of the village itself is a small cemetery containing 
twenty or thirty graves marked by totems or covered with grave 

The descendants of the former inhabitants of Old Kasaan now 
reside principally at Kasaan, 12 miles from their ancestral village 
and adjacent to a salmon-packing establishment where many are 
employed during the summer months as fishermen and cannery 

The languages of the Haida and Tlingits suggest a common source 
at some far distant time. When the Haidas entered Tlingit country, 
a similar social organization among the two peoples led to inter- 


The Haida clans, like the Tlingit, were grouped as Raven or 
Eagle. But among the Haidas each clan used a great many crests, 
where the Tlingits had only one or two. These crests were sometimes 
in opposite phratries in the two nations, what was Raven in one, 
being Eagle in the other. 

Once a Tlingit girl who had married a Haida returned to her 
own people on her husband's death with a strange tale. She said her 
husband would never eat in public; but when they were alone 
together and she set out dried salmon, mice came out of his mouth 
and ears. The mice would eat the salmon, and go back into the man's 
body. The husband's brothers were properly horrified when they 
learned of this, but the girl lost caste with her own people by telling the 
story. Although she was the daughter of a chief, people did not respect 
her. They said, "We don't care about you. You used to feed mice." 

The Haidas differed from the Tlingits in many customs. They 
called on their "opposites" to serve at a funeral and paid for this 
with a potlatch. But their great feasts were purely social and given 
by a chief to his own phratry, to enhance his standing with his own 

Craig (p.o., 231 pop.) is the principal white settlement on Prince of 
Wales Island. Craig is a port of clearance for vessels plying between 
Prince Rupert, B.C., and the United States, and a Customs Office 
is maintained here. Craig is also an important center for Alaska 
fishing fleets which outfit here with oil, provisions, and general 
boat supplies. There is a large salmon cannery within the town limits 
and a sawmill, which is operated for the greater part of the year. 
Klawak (p.o., 437 pop.) is a village of Tlingit Indians a few miles 
from Craig. The first pack of salmon canned in Alaska was put up 
here. Sulzer, near Hydaburg, was once a center of mining activity 
but now depends on salmon canning. Tokeen (p.o., 16 pop. est. 1933) 
is on the northwest coast of Prince of Wales Island, about 120 miles 
from Ketchikan. Shakan (ipop. est. 1938), north of Tokeen and 75 
miles southwest of Wrangell was once an important settlement. It . 
grew up in 1879 around a sawmill established by Oliver Fontain, and 
was known at the time as "Oliver's Place." In 1938 the recipient of a 
questionnaire addressed to the Chamber of Commerce of Shakan 
wrote: "There's nobody living in Shakan Bay but myself. I'm here 
only trying to make a living and having a hard time of it." 


Leaving Wrangell, the steamer passes through Wrangell Narrows. 
To make this dangerous passage safe the Federal government ex- 
pended nearly $600,000 in dredging the channel to depths of 21, 24, 
and 27 feet, and in blasting out rock pinnacles. The cost of such 
work for a single year (1937) was $25,000. 

Wrangell Narrows lie between Mitkoff Island and Kupreanof 
Island, the latter 52 miles long and 28 miles wide, named after Captain 
Ivan Andreevich Kupreanof, who succeeded Baron Wrangell as gov- 
ernor of Russian America in 1836. 

On Mitkoff Island, in miles northwest of Ketchikan and 108 
miles southeast of Juneau, is Petersburg (p.o., i,252pop., many Na- 
tives), a modern fishing town and a center for fox and mink rais- 
ing. This is glacier country: the sun is hot, the air clear, the wind 
pure and heady. The lawns are close-cropped and gay with flowers, 
and autos speed along the plank streets. On rafts in the harbor 
are floating houses painted with red lead, complete with window 
curtains. Lanky blond Northerners lean against the wall and watch 
tourists lift the cover of a box labeled, "Red Bat: Dangerous When 
Flying," that contains a brickbat. 

Petersburg was named not after the Russian city but after Peter 
Buschmann, who in 1897 built a salmon cannery here, and later a 
sawmill. The town was incorporated in 1910, and has a growing 
population estimated in 1938 at 1,500. The principal industry is fishing 
for halibut, salmon, herring, and crabs. The famous Petersburg 
shrimp are taken in these waters. The town is also an outfitting point 
for game hunters. The only traffic light in Alaska in 1938 was at 
Petersburg. The Petersburg Press, a weekly newspaper, is published 

A 24-foot channel was dredged to the wharves in 1957, a small boat 
basin constructed, and other harbor improvements completed at a 
total cost of about $87,000. 

A site several miles south of Petersburg, overlooking Wrangell 
Narrows, has been definitely selected for an agricultural experiment 
fur-farm station, and $20,000 has been appropriated for its use. The 
station will conduct experiments in raising fur-bearing animals and 
perform research in their diseases, food habits, etc. 

"Wild fur is becoming more scarce," notes Earl N. Ohmer, a 
member of the Alaska Game Commission and an authority on fur 


farming. "But the demand for fur is still high and the market is 
depending more and more on ranch-raised fur. At present there are 
less than 300 fur farms in Alaska but the operation of a model farm 
and laboratory should prove a boon to those who wish to enter the 

"The parent stock from all fur ranches came from the wild; but 
the wild-caught animals, raised in ranches, bred with the idea of care- 
ful selectivity, better feeding, and under close supervision for ailments 
that may be present, develop into finer animals and grow much bet- 
ter fur. 

"At present, many ranches let their foxes run loose on islands 
which they lease from the U.S. Forest Service, but mink are confined 
in pens. This pen-raised mink makes a leather which is lighter, also 
a more uniform fur, which makes it easier for the purchaser to get a 
fine blend for good selection. . . . The pen-raising of foxes is the 
solution of controlling and eliminating the parasites and ailments 
which now affect wild and island-raised foxes." 

Point Agassiz is a post office 25 m. north of Petersburg. Beyond, on 
the right are Kate's Needle (10,002 alt.) and Devil's Thumb (9,077 
alt.), marking the international boundary. Fanshaw (p.o., 4pop.), once 
a cannery village, is now a fox-farming district. Five Finger Light- 
house, on a near-by island was built in 1902 and is the oldest light- 
house in Alaska. Kake (p.o., 386pop.) is a Native village on the west 
shore of Kupreanof Island, 65 miles northwest of Petersburg, with a 
government school for Natives, two general stores, and a sawmill. 
Fishing and canning are the principal industries. 

The steamer crosses Frederick Sound and continues north between 
the mainland and Admiralty Island, which has a total area of 1,665,- 
000 acres and is part of the great national forests of Alaska. 

Tyee is a post office near the southern point of Admiralty Island. 
At Hood Bay, on the west coast of the island, is a cannery and two 
Native settlements, Angoon (p.o., 319 pop.) and Killisnoo (3 pop.). 
Both names are Native words, Killisnoo probably being a corruption 
of Kootznahoo, "bear fort." A reduction plant was established at Killi- 
snoo in 1880, probably the first to operate on the Pacific coast. The 
company began as a whale-reducing enterprise, but later put herring 
through the plant for oil. In 1882 one of the company's whaling guns 
exploded and killed a Native shaman employed on the boat. The 


Indians demanded four hundred blankets from the company as com- 
pensation. When this was refused, the Indians captured two white 
men who had no relation with the company and held them at 
Angoon, demanding four hundred blankets in ransom. This was in 
accordance with Indian custom which required that such a death be 
avenged by an equivalent death, or a money compensation from the 
tribe of those responsible. The revenue cutter Cortvin was sent to 
rescue the men. On the arrival of the vessel the Indians allowed their 
captives to go. Captain Merryman of the Cortvin called the chiefs 
aboard and demanded an explanation. They still asked four hundred 
blankets for the death of the shaman. The commander told them 
plainly, "That was an accident. You get no pay for that. But I want 
you to pay four hundred blankets for capturing and holding these two 
miners. I'll give you two hours to bring the blankets or I'll shell 
your village." The poverty-stricken village could collect only fifty. 
These the captain threw overboard; he then ordered the Indians to 
vacate their houses as he would start shelling in ten minutes. The 
entire village was destroyed. Seven years later the Federal govern- 
ment paid the Natives for property lost at that time, giving them 
cloth, tobacco, and other useful commodities to the value of $6,000. 

Lake Hasselberg, in the center of Admiralty Island, and Lake 
Florence, on the west side, are fishing grounds that were practically 
inaccessible before the use of planes. Regular flights are now made 
from Juneau to both points. Incredible catches of cutthroat trout, 
many measuring two feet or more in length, have been made here. 

Admiralty Island has an abundance of wild life. Sitka deer, beaver, 
land otter, muskrat, weasel, and marten abound. The Forest Service, 
with the aid of CCC workers, has developed a trail system and built 
shelter cabins for overnight use. Some light cedar skiffs have also been 
built for public use. 

In 1932 it was estimated that there were nine hundred Alaska 
brown bear on Admiralty Island. Hunting is permitted in the spring 
and fall. This species is one of the largest in the world, sometimes 
weighing as much as 1,600 pounds. The bears spend about five months 
of the year in hibernation, during which time the cubs are born. 
In the summer they keep to the muskeg, scrub timber and willow 
thickets in the interior of the island, except for excursions to the 
streams during the salmon season. 


At Pack Creek, north of Windfall Harbor, there is a bear observa- 
tory and camera station which aflfords safe concealment for photo- 
graphing bears while they are fishing. The animals toss the salmon 
out of the water for sport as well as for food. An investigator for 
the Bureau of Fisheries once reported that a bear could eat a quarter 
of a ton of salmon in a day. While this would be pretty heavy, even 
for a one-ton bear, it is possible that they at least destroy that 
amount, as they frequently eat only a small piece from the neck of 
each fish. 

Hawk Inlet (p.o.) and Funter (p.o., i4pop. est. 1938) are on 
the northern part of Admiralty Island, about 50 miles from Juneau 
in a mining and salmon area. One of the earliest canneries in Alaska 
was established at Funter, but it has been unable to operate since 
about 1930, because of lack of water. 

East of Admiralty Island on the mainland is Windham (p.o., 
27 pop. est. 1938) which began as a mining camp but is now a fur- 
farming district. At the mouth of Sumdum Bay are marten and mink 
farms. Sumdum Glacier and Mt. Sumdum (6,690 alt.) are on the 
mainland near Holkham Bay. Sumdum (p.o., 2 pop., 1938) was a min- 
ing center in 1908. The curious name is believed to have been in- 
vented by the Indians of this vicinity to describe the sound made by 
the ice. "A berg suddenly going to pieces is a grand sight," wrote 
Muir while at Sumdum Glacier, "especially when the water is calm 
and no motion is visible save perchance the slow drift of the tide 
current. The prolonged roar of its fall comes with startling effect, 
and heavy swells are raised that haste away in every direction to tell 
what has taken place, and tens of thousands of its neighbors rock 
and swash in sympathy, repeating the news over and over again. 
We were too near several large ones that fell apart as we passed 
them, and our canoe had narrow escapes. The seal hunters are 
frequently lost in these sudden berg accidents." Twelve miles from 
Sumdum, at the head of the bay, is Dawes Glacier. 

Of the several thousand glaciers in Alaska, only a few hundred 
have been named. The smallest Alaska glaciers of any consequence 
are larger than the famed Nisqually Glacier on the slope of Mt. 
Rainier, one of the largest ice masses in continental United States. 
Malaspina Glacier (see Part II, 3), with an area of 1,500 square miles, 
is larger than Rhode Island. 


John Muir found that the same questions were asked regularly 
about glaciers and compiled the following glacier catechism. 

"Is that a glacier," they asked, "down in that canyon? And is it 
all solid ice?" 


"How deep is it?" 

"Perhaps five hundred or a thousand feet." 

"You say it flows. How can hard ice flow?" 

"It fJoii'S lil{e water, though invisibly slow." 

"And where does it come from?" 

"From snow that is heaped up every winter on the mountains." 

"And how then is the snow changed into ice?" 

"It is welded by the pressure of its own weight." 

"Are these white masses we see in the hollows glaciers also?" 


"Are those bluish, draggled masses hanging down from beneath 
the snowfields what you call the snouts of the glaciers?" 


"What made the hollows they are in?" 

"The glaciers themselves, just as traveling animals make their own 

"How long have they been there?" 

"Numberless centuries." 

Above Holkham Bay the steamer enters Stephens Passage, in 
which the steamer Islander was wrecked in 1901. It was said to have 
carried $3,000,000 in gold dust, some of which was recovered by 
panning in 1934. 

Taku Inlet flows into Stephens Passage eight miles south of 
Juneau. In 1849 Tebenkof named this Icy Arm. It has also been called 
Elk Arm and Glacier Inlet. Taku River, tributary to the Inlet, has 
its headwaters in British Columbia. The native name, Taku, was 
given by Vasilief in 1848 to the harbor and village and by Thomas 
in 1888 to Taku Mountain (2,i7oalt.) near Taku Harbor (p.o.). On. 
Taku Inlet is Taku Glacier, a mile wide and from 100 to 300 feet 
high at its face. The Indians called it Klumma Gutta, or Spirits' 
Home. It extends 30 miles down the east side of the Canadian coast 
range, varying from two to three miles in width, with at least ten 
tributaries. At certain stages of each tide masses of ice break away 


from the glacier and crash into the water. This process is called calv- 
ing. If it does not occur naturally while the ship is there, it may be 
induced by blasts of the steamer's whistle. 

Entering Gastineau Channel, the tidewaters of which have a rise 
and fall of sixteen feet, the tall peaks of Douglas Island are to the 
left, and to the right the mountains of the mainland backed by still 
higher ranges. The channel was named for a Hudson's Bay Company 
steamer, named in turn for a river in Quebec. 

Juneau (p.o., 4,043 pop.) is the capital of Alaska. The town lies at 
the water's edge. Behind it rise the steep, timbered slopes of Mt. 
Juneau (3,59oalt.) and Mt. Roberts (3,6ooalt.). A bridge spans the 
channel to Douglas Island, a wooded, mountainous mass with barren 
peaks well above the timber line. 

The harbor offers excellent docking facilities for large and small 
boats. A breakwater 80 feet high, extending 1500 feet from high-tide 
line, has been built of waste rock from the Alaska Juneau mine. Ac- 
cording to the Juneau chamber of commerce, fifty million tons of 
rock were used in building the first thousand feet. Juneau is the 
headquarters port for the Customs District of Alaska. Over 500 steam 
and motor vessels have their home port here, and launches maintain 
weekly schedules between the town and small communities near by. 
In 1936 the commerce in Juneau harbor totaled 120,477 tons, valued 
at $12,580,253. 

Gold mining is the chief industry. The Alaska Juneau mine em- 
ploys 900 men and has an annual payroll of over |i,500,ooo. There are 
fourteen salmon canneries in the Juneau district. Commercial fishing 
is confined to salmon and halibut, but herring, shrimp, and crab are 
plentiful. An electrically operated sawmill produces lumber, most of 
which is sold in Alaska. Fur farming is a common industry. Many 
farmers raise stock in pens on the mainland and a number of island 
ranches are leased from the Forest Service. What agriculture there is, 
is entirely for local use. There is some stock raising, and six govern- 
ment-inspected dairies are near the town. The rainfall is too heavy 
for grains, but garden vegetables and small fruit are excellent. 

Stories of gold in this region reached Sitka through the Indians, 
and in the summer of 1880 Joe Juneau and Dick Harris explored the 
mountainsides and creeks along Gastineau Channel. They found sev- 
eral rich deposits in Silver Bow Basin, and before the following spring 


more than a hundred men were campiny; where die town of Juneau 
now stands. This was the first gold rush in American Alaska and 
marks the beginning of the mineral history of the Territory. 

Joe Juneau sold his holdings in Silver Bow Basin for a large sum. 
He is said to have been frightened by the thought that he wouldn't 
live long enough to spend it all. But he spent this and several other 
fortunes, lived to run a boarding house in Dawson, and died penniless. 
Harris and Juneau quarreled for two years over the name of their 
camp. A miners' meeting in 1882 reached a compromise, naming the 
town Juneau and the district Harrisburg. 

At that time such miners' meetings were the only civil law in 
Alaska. Congress had been content to make the territory a customs 
district and a department of die Navy. The miners' meetings kept 
order with a minimum of friction, and a remark preserved from 
those days illustrates the temper of the men who lived under this 
law. "We had an earthquake a while ago, so we know the Lord 
ain't forgotten us, if the government has." 

In 1886 Chinese labor was increasing in the Harrisburg district. 
The miners put all Orientals aboard a ship and headed it for Wran- 
gell. The governor of Alaska ordered the Chinese back to the mines. 
But the miners threatened to line the shore with shotguns, and the 
Chinese did not return. 

Juneau was officially made the capital of Alaska in 1900, but the 
executive offices were not moved from Sitka until 1906. The present 
six-story Federal building was erected in 1931 at a cost of $1,000,000. 
The Territorial Legislature and the U.S. District Court meet here. 
Twenty-five Federal and seven Territorial departments have offices 
in the building. 

In religious organizations, clubs and recreational facilities Juneau 
compares with any town of its size in the United States. There are 
nine religious groups: Russian Orthodox; Roman Catholic, which 
maintains a parochial school and the Hospital of St. Ann; Lutheran; 
Episcopal, with Trinity Cathedral the headquarters of the Diocese of 
Alaska; Presbyterian, which conducts a Native mission; Christian 
Scientist; Bethel Pentecostal, with a mission and a children's home; 
and the Salvation Army. Fraternal orders include the Legionnaires and 
Auxiliary, Eagles, Order of the Eastern Star, Elks, Knights of Colum- 
bus, Masons, Moose, Mooseheart Legion, Odd Fellows, Pioneers of 

Natural Wealth 


.N 1900 the wealth of Alaska was chiefly in furs and the 
newly discovered gold. Furs are still one of the great resources of the 
country, the 1938 output being worth approximately $3,000,000. But in 
that year the canned salmon and other fishery products shipped to 
continental United States were valued at more than $50,000,000. Three- 
fourths of this was salmon. Carefully protected, fish should remain a 
source of Alaska wealth for all time. In the last fifty years Alaska has 
produced more than $500,000,000 worth of gold, the 1938 output being 
approximately $18,500,000. About two-thirds of this is from placer 
mines, but the simple methods of panning have almost disappeared. 
Eighty percent of placer gold is recovered by dredge, and the re- 
mainder largely by hydraulic methods. Drift mining, or deep placer 
mining, has added many years to the life of the Alaska placer fields 
and cold-water thawing, in place of thawing by superheated steam, 
has greatly reduced operating costs. Gold lodes, or hard-rock mines, 
occur throughout the Territory, but three-fourths of this output is from 
southeastern Alaska. 

In 1938 receipts from the sale of timber amounted to less than 
$52,000; but the manufacture of pulp and paper will undoubtedly 
become one of the great industries of Alaska. The timber stand on the 
two national forests is estimated to be 84,000,000,000 board feet. The 
predominating wood species are particularly adapted to the manufac- 
ture of newsprint paper with a possible sustained yearly cut of 
1,000,000,000 board feet, sufficient to produce not less than 1,300,000 
tons of this product. The Alaska coal regions remain largely un- 
developed, but coal to the value of $500,000 was produced in 1937, 
chiefly from the Matanuska and Healy River fields. Alaska has ap- 
proximately 65,000 square miles of tillable land; but at present fewer 
than 2,000 people are engaged in farming, and farm products valued 
at almost $1,000,000 are shipped annually to Alaska from Seattle. This 
situation is due chiefly to limited transportation facilities and not to 
anything inherent in Alaska soil or Alaska climate. With increase in 
population and further development of the Territory, Alaska can 
expect to produce most of its foodstuffs at home. 

above: Punning for Gold 
below: Trapper's Cabin 

Standing Salmon 'I'liip 

Floating Salmon Trap 

V.rx^Ji' . 

above: I l\(^ 
KKi.ow: I))ijt Min/rii; 

above: Gold-Dredge Bitcl{et.< ^ 

BEi.ow: CohJWdtey Tluiicing 

Alas\a Juneau Gold Mill 

■■'■■- G '' III' ■^' ■)■ '■"■ / i .' 

Ahini-.: . Ih/s/i^ii I inii'c f 
below: Log Boom 

AnoNi.: liitcnor at Hcaly akom:: llciiiy Coal Mines 

below: IIemloc\ and Spruce, Poll^ Inlet 


Aiiuvi.: DiiDics San Mcndcnhdii duuicr 
below: Hay Fields at Matanuska 









Alaska and Auxiliary, Rebekahs, Shrine Club, and Scottish Rite 
Masonic. There are four troops of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and a 
Parent-Teacher Association. 

Juneau has a public library, public schools for white and for Native 
children, and two daily newspapers Alaska Empire (daily, lo cents) 
and Alaska Press (daily, 5 cents). There are two motion-picture thea- 
ters. The city maintains public tennis courts and playgrounds, and a 
baseball diamond. On Mendenhall Lake, facing Mendenhall Glacier, is 
a rifle range with well-equipped shooting house containing lunch and 
club rooms where visitors are always welcome. At Thane (68 pop.), 
four miles south of Juneau, is a "million-dollar" nine-hole golf course, 
so named because it is laid out on tailings of the old Alaska Gastineau 
Gold Mining Company. 

eral Bldg.; open 9-5 and during steamer hours, free) was established 
by act of Congress, June 1900. It was opened to the public in Sep- 
tember, 1920, after acquiring Dr. Neuman's collection of Eskimo 
antiquities. Besides Indian work of historic or art value the museum 
has documents and relics from the Russian regime, and a large col- 
lection of Alaska newspapers, and is a depository of government 

Some of the Eskimo work in the museum is more than seven 
hundred years old. Particularly interesting are delicate carvings done 
with stone tools. 

On display is a fine Chilkat blanket. The weaving of these blankets 
is all but a lost art, and those offered for sale to tourists are often 
not so carefully made and are colored with commercial dyes. The 
baskets in the museum's collection are extraordinarily beautiful and 
have geometric or naturalistic designs. Totemic symbols have been 
recently introduced in basketry to satisfy tourist demand. 

Most common objects made by Alaska Indians have a mythical 
origin. The Chilkat blanket goes back to the time before a great flood 
when animals could remove their skins at will. A girl, returning from 
gathering wild celery, came upon a handsome young man and went 
home with him as his wife. There she found that he was really a 
grizzly bear, and, to top things off, already married to a lynx. One day 
she saw the lynx weaving a blanket skin for herself. She watched until 
she learned how it was done. The Great Raven visited the home and 


received a blanket as a dance gift, which he in turn gave to his people, 
the Indians, 

The materials of the Chilkat blanket are goat's wool, the inner 
side of the yellow cedar, and sinew. The cedar covered with wool is 
the warp; wool thread is the woof. Ornamental parts are sewed on 
with sinew. The loom is two upright posts across which is stretched 
a narrow piece of skin. From holes at regular intervals in the skin 
the warp strings are hung and bound together by the woof. The 
wool of three to ten goats is required for one blanket. The general 
weave is a twilled diagonal called hee-^ar-ree , "rough" or "uneven." 
The warp is never colored. The three colors used for the woof are 
black, yellow, and bluish green. Black dye is made from alder bark; 
green, from a lichen; and blue-green, from copper ore. The design 
of the Chilkat blanket is stylized. The central part of the blanket 
has a totemistic figure, while the rest of the pattern has little mean- 
ing, and is used only to give richness to the color effect. The pattern 
is kept in the family for generations and is almost synonymous with 
the family totem. The Chilkat blanket was used for ceremonial dances 
and at funerals. If used in a dance it ceased to be private property 
and belonged to the clan. 

The Tlingit basket came into existence because the Sun's woman 
idly picked up some spruce roots and wove them into shape. The 
Sun became interested and enlarged the basket to hold his wife and 
her children, and then lowered them to the earth. Thus mortals first 
learned basket making. The basket is woven of grass and spruce 
roots. The roots are slightly charred, soaked in water, then drawn 
through a split stick to remove the bark. The root is split into three 
parts: the center for ornamental work, the rest for the body. The 
principal colors are the same as those used in the blanket. Different 
characteristic weaves are used for water, berry picking, eating dishes, 
general utility, and ceremonial purposes. A small basket, heavily 
ornamented, is for drinking sea water, in order to insure good hunt- 
ing — four sips to be taken four successive mornings before the raven 

Against the slope of Mt. Roberts, at the lower end of the town, 
is the ALASKA JUNEAU MINE (admission to mill only, free i to 5, week- 
days), the largest gold-mining operation in the world, from the stand- 
point of tons mined. 

The earth around Juneau was built up in layers of mud deposit 


and volcanic flow. At some time an upheaval lifted and folded these, 
leaving internal fractures which later filled with quartz. The orig- 
inal deposits now lie in roughly parallel belts that dip steeply to the 
east. Through them are irregular quartz veins following the fractures 
left in the slate by the twist and pull of the upheaval. Gold<arrying 
solutions later trickled around and through the quartz, depositing gold 
at irregular intervals. What was the main channel for the mineral 
solutions is now known as the Nugget Gulch ore band. 

The early prospectors found and mined this gulch, following a 
quartz vein down from the surface outcrop. But the gold content, 
frequently less than one dollar a ton, was too little for this kind of 
mining. In 1897 the Alaska Juneau Company bought up the twenty- 
three lode claims that covered the outcrop and attacked the mountain 
as a whole. Still working from the surface, they broke up all the 
rock and sorted out the quartz to be milled. But even this was not 
on a large enough scale to make a profit from such extremely low 
grade ore, and in 1913 they initiated the present "caving" system. 

After Nugget Gulch was filled with quartz veinlets and the quartz 
had been streaked with gold, an earthquake shattered this ground. It 
seems probable that far below Nugget Gulch, running at right angles 
to it, there was another great fracture which had never filled and 
which finally caved in. The north part of the Nugget Gulch ore 
band now lies 1,800 feet lower than the south part, and 2,000 feet 
to the west of it. Between them is a hundred feet of crumpled rock 
called Silver Bow Fault. In 1913 the Alaska Juneau Company opened 
a tunnel along this fault, cutting the north ore body at a 45-degree 
angle and passing under the south ore body. From this they raised 
ventilating shafts and drove parallel levels through the whole ore 

The mining is now done from below upwards. A shaft is raised, 
then a "bulldozing" chamber is cut out and a "grizzly" set above the 
shaft opening. The grizzly is made of 16-foot H-beams with 25-inch 
openings between the girders. Above the grizzly is an 18-foot raise 
called the drawhole. When four sets of raises and chambers are com- 
pleted, mining is begun on the ore above. 

At first the ore is drilled in a funnel above each drawhole until 
the four funnels meet. After the funnel edges cut each other, blasting 
is begun until caving takes place naturally. The falling rock usually 
breaks fine enough to pass the twenty-five inch grizzly. Where this 


is not the case the large pieces are drilled in the bulldozing cham- 
bers. The grizzlies pass the ore into pockets frcjm which it is drawn 
through chutes into ten-ton cars. 

This system of mining does not separate the quartz from the slate, 
and at first both were sent through the mill. This proved a costly 
mistake. The ore is now sent into the mill over a coarse screen which 
removes the water and small pieces, and passes the oversized ones to 
a sorting belt. The belt runs over a crushing bowl and four sorters 
pull off the ore and allow the valueless rock to travel to the waste bin 
outside. There is a clear color difference between the white quartz 
and the other material which is dark, so that one sorter can pull off 
eighty tons of ore in an eight-hour shift. After the first crushing the 
rock passes over a second belt and here one sorter can take off 
twenty-five tons of ore per eight-hour shift. Fifty per cent of the ma- 
terial trammed from the mine is eliminated in these two processes, 
leaving a product of sufficient value to justify the further milling 

The ore is first crushed and ground to the proper fineness and then 
sent to concentrating tables, where it is divided into rough concen- 
trate, dirty middling, and waste tailing. The divisions are made so 
as to produce a clean tailing and the concentrate and middling are cut 
large in proportion to the mineral content of the feed. This is the 
reverse of table work in an ordinary concentration mill. The concen- 
trate and middling are sent to reconcentrating tables and the process 
repeated. A finished concentrate and clean waste tailing are never 
made on the same table. 

High grade concentrate ($20,000 to $30,000 gold per ton) is col- 
lected daily in an amalgam barrel and retorted at intervals. Eighty 
percent of the total gold recovered at the Alaska Juneau is in the 
form of bullion. A table concentrate, 56 percent lead, 20 percent iron, 
30 oz. silver, and $300 gold per ton, is shipped every ten days. 

The fine waste from the mill is discharged through flumes into 
Gastineau Channel in a dilute pulp, about ten percent solid. The 
coarse waste is carried from the bin by gravity trams to the beach 
3,500 feet south of the mill. Two trains of cars are operated in balance, 
one being dumped while the other is loaded. The loaded train pulls 
the empty up the incline and feeds power back into the line. There is 
a slight net gain in power from the operation. 


The waste rock is crushed, graded, and stored in bins. It is suitable 
for road making, railroad ballast, and concrete. Some of it is de- 
posited on the beach as a breakwater. In 1937 this breakwater had a 
surface area of more than twenty acres. The total cost of disposing 
of the rock, including construction work for the expanding break- 
water, is five cents a ton. 

Since 1916 most of the work inside the mine has been done by 
contract, at so much per square foot. The work is not put up for bids 
as the company and the men have learned by experience what is a fair 
price. The company supplies tools and materials, supervises all work 
closely and carries the contractor and his men on the company pay- 
roll, paying them a base rate when their earnings do not exceed it. 
The distribution of the group earnings among the men is provided in 
the contract. By this method the company is able to treat at a profit the 
lowest-grade gold ore in the world. 

A short distance from Juneau on the north side of Gold Creek is 
the Indian village of Auk and a Native cemetery. The dead are placed 
in small, decorated buildings. Many of their personal possessions are 
buried with them. 

Easy trails lead from the town into Silver Bow Basin between 
the towering slopes of Mt. Roberts and Mt. Juneau, through the flow- 
ering wilderness that Juneau and Harris explored in the summer of 
1880. A 4V2 mile trail through a dense forest of evergreens, scattered 
with wild flowers and patches of snow, ends in the 3,600-foot summit 
of Mt. Roberts and overlooks a panorama of inland waters, mountains, 
and glaciers. 

There are fifty miles of gravel-surfaced road near Juneau. Glacier 
Highway runs from Thane, through Juneau, thence north to Menden- 
hall Glacier and Eagle River (frequent bus service). 

This drive through a small area of the Tongass National Forest, 
along the shores of Gastineau Channel, leads past country homes, sum- 
mer cottages, fur farms and dairies, through forests of hemlock, cedar, 
and blue-tipped spruce to the island-spotted waters of Lynn Canal. 
The mountains of the mainland loom close and on the western hori- 
zon are the snowy peaks of the Chilkat Range. Alpine bluebells grow 
on the mountainsides. Along the highways and in the canyons are 
purple lupin, wild hyacinth, yellow cowslip, dwarfed dogwood, fire- 
weed, bog laurel, yellow water lily, blue and yellow violets, Arctic 
daisy, and wild lily-of-the-valley. 


Mendeniiall Glacier, named for the superintendent of the Coast 
Survey in 1892, is 17 miles long and 2 to 3 miles wide at its face. It 
is one of the few glaciers in the world accessible by automobile road. 
The ice is an unearthly blue where crevasses and caverns reflect the 
water. Swift, powerful streams are forced from under its mountain 
weight. At its snout is a jumbled mass of rock carried down from the 
higher land. The sides of the valleys along the glacier course are 
cut and scarred by the pressure of the ice. Beyond the glacier is 
Auk Lake, reflecting the glacier in a frame of evergreen trees, foot- 
hills, and mountains. Airplane trips may be made from Juneau cover- 
ing Taku and Mendenhall glaciers in one flight. 

Douglas Island, 18 miles long and 10 miles wide, was named by 
Vancouver for his friend the Bishop of Salisbury. A steel suspension 
bridge connecting Juneau with Douglas Island and the highway to 
Douglas City was completed in 1935 at a cost of $250,000. 

In the spring of 1881 Perrie Enusard, a companion of Juneau and 
Harris, found gold quartz on Douglas Island. The quality was too 
poor for simple mining, often running as low as Si. 50 a ton. Enusard 
sold his claim to John Tread well of San Francisco for $400 and never 
made another strike of any value. Treadwell combined four such 
claims on the island and was able to make large profits from low- 
grade ore. More than $66,000,000 in gold was recovered during thirty- 
six years' operation. In 1917 a cave-in occurred, and the mines were 
flooded. These mines were an outstanding factor in the development 
of Alaska. Men came from the States to work in the Treadwell mines, 
and when they had made a grubstake ventured on into the Interior. 
Old miners returned here after a run of bad luck and fortified them- 
selves for other ventures. 

Douglas (p.o., 593 pop.) was built during the operation of the 
Treadwell mines and is now largely a residential town for employees 
of the Alaska Juneau Company across the Channel. Douglas has a 
Native school, a school for white children, and an accredited 
high school. There are a few local industries. A salmon cannery fur- 
nishes seasonal labor, and the Alaska Juneau foundry, casting repair 
parts, is here. The foundry casts a monthly average of 65 tons of iron, 
32 of steel, and 2 of brass. A major portion of the business section was 
destroyed by fire in 1937, but was soon rebuilt. 

Skis are not an innovation along Gastineau Channel. They were 


necessary equipment in laying transmission lines over the mountains 
and for other construction projects. Recently sport trails have been 
built over these hills. A four-mile run on Douglas Island, built by 
the Forest Service, is 2,000 feet above sea level at its head and over- 
looks Stephens Passage and the shores of Admiralty Island. Skiing 
lasts well into the spring in the higher altitudes. 

Chichagof Island, named for Admiral Vasili Chichagof, an Arctic 
explorer, 1765-6, is reached by plane or launch from Juneau. To the 
north are the great halibut fishing banks of Icy Straits and Cross 
Sound. Gold is mined on the island and tungsten and nickel ores are 
known to exist. The large brown and the grizzly bear are found here 
and on Baranof Island to the south. Hoonah (p.o., 5i4pop., largely 
Native) is a village on Chichagof Island, about 75 miles southwest of 
Juneau by water. The name, said to mean "cold lake," is that of a local 
tribe of Indians (Hooniah). A United States government school for 
Natives is maintained here. There are two general stores, two 
churches, fish canneries and a sawmill. Tenakee (p.o., 210 pop.), in 
the northeast section of Chichagof Island, is a fishing and canning 
center with two general stores. A portage 150 yards long connects 
Tenakee Inlet with Port Frederick. Kimshan Co\^ (p-o., 81 pop. est. 
1938) is a mining village on the west shore of Chichagof Island with- 
out hotel accommodations. The name is Chinese, meaning Gold 
Mountain. The Hirst-Chichagof Mining Co., incorporated in 1919 
with a capitalization of $1,000,000, is at Kimshan Cove. Telegraph 
service is maintained to Chichagof (p.o., 67pop.), a mining camp on 
the west coast of the island, 150 miles southwest of Juneau by water- 
way. The Chichagofif Mining Co. (present capitalization $49,000) con- 
trols the Chichagof? Power Company and supplies power under con- 
tract to the Hirst-Chichagof mines. 

Peril Strait, which separates Chichagof Island from Baranof 
Island, was so named by the Russians because one hundred and fifty 
Aleuts died from eating poisonous mussels gathered there. 

Midway on the west coast of Baranof Island, named for the direc- 
tor of the Russian America Company, is Sitka (p.o., 1,600 pop. est. 
1939), the former capital of Alaska. 

Approaching Sitka by the usual steamer route, six miles to the 
north on the left is a small bay, the site of Old Sitka. Sitka harbor 
is dominated by Mt. Edgecumbe on Kruzof Island to the west, an 


extinct snow-capped volcano rising above a chain of blue hills. The 
town itself lies on the harbor at the foot of Mt. Verstovia, 3 miles 
to the east. Opposite the town is Japonski Island, 200 acres, so named 
because in 1805 shipwrecked Japanese sailors remained on the island. 
Later it became a Russian magnetic observatory. Today the Navy 
Department maintains a seaplane station here. 

The oldest town in southeastern Alaska, Sitka is rich in historic 
interest. For a century it was the metropolis and capital of Alaska, 
and long the gayest and most brilliant city on the whole Pacific coast. 

In July, 1741, Captain Alexei Chirikof sailed into what is now 
Sitka harbor and dropped anchor in a fairyland of islands and weed- 
hung rocks. One of the ship's boats was sent to reconnoiter the shore, 
and when it did not return in three days, a second was sent after it. 
This boat signaled a safe landing but did not return. The ship waited 
three weeks and then put back to sea. Nothing was ever heard of 
Chirikof's men, although they or their descendants were looked for, 
for eighty years. Sitka Indian tradition says that a chief dressed him- 
self in the skin of a bear and lured the party to its death. 

Other captains put into this harbor during the eighteenth century 
and entered in their logs descriptions of the great snow-capped, 
truncated mountain: among them Don Francisco de la Bodega y 
Quadra in 1775, and Captain Dixon and Captain Portlock in 1787. 
Captain Cook, in 1778, named the volcano Edgecumbe, for the hill 
at the entrance to Plymouth harbor, England. By 1800 the harbor 
was a recognized port-of-call for New England clipper ships on their 
way to the China seas. Here Yankees and Sitka Indians, part of the 
great Tlingit nation, matched wits in sharp trading; the Yankees 
frequently getting the worst of it. 

In 1799 a Siberian trader, Baranof, came to Sitka from Kodiak 
with thirty Russians and several hundred Aleuts. He carried a charter 
from the Russian government which made him head of the Russian 
America Company and gave him exclusive rights to all the wealth 
in the territory. He was under orders to stop the trade in furs and 
ivory carried on by other nations, to protect the Indians in their life 
and property, to feed them in time of disaster, to educate their chil- 
dren and, if possible, to save their souls. The Indians were unaware 
of this and resisted the newcomers vigorously. 

Baranof bartered with them for a townsite six miles north of their 
fortified village and built Redoubt St. Gabriel (Old Sitka). The rain 



fell incessantly, his men were sick with scurvy, and ten of his thirty 
Russians had to stand guard. The Tlingits were hostile, and were 
held in check mainly by Baranof's brutal but effective personality. 
When the fortifications were completed Baranof returned to the post 
at Kodiak and left St, Michael in charge of Medvyednikof. Two sum- 
mers later, while the Aleuts were away hunting, the Tlingits cap- 
tured the redoubt, killed the twenty Russian men, and took the women 
and children prisoners. 

Baranof returned to Sitka in 1804. The Indians, in addition to their 
walled village on the hill, had a stronger fort near the river mouth, to 
which they retired. The Russians occupied the town and bombarded 
the river fort for ten days. Land attack was impossible and cannons 
fired from the vessels at sea had no effect on the heavy spruce walls. 
During the night of October 6th, the Tlingits retreated secretly, ex- 
pecting no quarter from their enemies. They left behind the bodies 
of five children whose cries might have revealed them. Suffering 
greatly from fatigue and hunger they crossed the mountains to Sitkoh 
Bay and built another fort which sheltered a thousand enemies of the 
white man. 

In September, 1805, Nikolai Petrovich Rezanof arrived at Sitka 
on a tour of inspection and found the settlement facing starvation. 
Rezanof bought the cargo of an American ship which fed the colonists 
for a few months and then sailed for the Spanish settlement at San 
Francisco. Rivalry between Russia and Spain had precluded any trade 
between their colonies up to that time. Rezanof had to override this 
and purchase supplies from the Spaniards without giving them any 
inkling of the plight of the Russians at Sitka. This he accomplished 
in less than two months with the aid of fifteen-year-old Dofia Con- 
cepcion Argiiello, sister of the commandant of the post. The imperious 
young girl was so moved by the courtly manners of Rezanof and the 
courtly life he promised her that she swept aside the national and 
religious prejudices of her family and announced her betrothal to the 
Russian, pending permission from Rome. Rezanof, having accom- 
plished his mission, returned to Sitka with the supplies, but died at 
Krasnoyarsk on his way back to St. Petersburg. Doria Concha in due 
time entered a holy order and her story — six weeks of interplay be- 
tween ambition and diplomacy — took a high place in the romantic 
annals of Spanish America. 

Baranof rebuilt the village on the hill and named it New Arch- 


angel, under the patronage of St. Michael. But the Indian word Sitka, 
thought to mean "by-the-sea," was never lost, and the Russians them- 
selves frequently used it in their reports. The dwellings were built 
of spruce logs, and a log stockade protected the town. There were bar- 
racks for the men, warehouses, a smithy, and quarters for the gov- 
ernor. In 1806 the Russians began to trade with the village of San 
Francisco, importing raw hides and tallow, and returning manufac- 
tured goods such as leather and candles. 

In 1810 Captain Vasili Golovnin of the Russian navy was aston- 
ished by the interior of Baranof's rough-hewn fortress. He saw "orna- 
ments and furniture in profusion of masterly workmanship and costly 
price . . . and many pictures of remarkable merit. I must confess that 
I badly judge in painting and could only know that in the uncultivated 
wild border of America there would be none except Mr. Baranof to 
value and understand them." There was a library of 1,200 volumes 
contributed by great families in St. Petersburg anxious to do what 
they could to "sow the seed of science in the breasts of the peoples 
so far outlying from the enlightenment of Europe." Baranof told the 
enthusiastic captain that he would be glad to exchange it all for a 
doctor, or the pupil of a doctor. 

The doctors came. Surgical and astronomical instruments were 
sent from Russia. Sitka eventually had an observatory, a museum, a 
hospital with forty beds, three doctors, eleven apothecaries, and several 
schools where boys were trained in mechanics, navigation, and ac- 
counting. All this was finally realized only in the time of Governor 
Yanovski and his wife, "Cavalier Baranof's daughter Irina." 

The man who built Sitka was a harsh administrator, energetic, 
domineering, of great courage, feared but respected. He enjoyed dan- 
ger and hard work, heavy drinking and carousing. And he was a 
poet, composing songs to celebrate the New World and the strenuous 
life. One of Baranof's songs has been preserved in which, in crude 
and unliterary Russian, he quaintly mixes phrases about the glory 
of Russia, the simplicity of Nature, and the brotherhood of man with 
terms direct from the counting-house. "As soon as we saw it, we settled 
on this solid strip of land," he sang. "Peter the Great! If you could 
waken, you would see that you have not been cheated. Near the 
lands of tea [Japan] your descendants have taken land and live. 
Argonauts are lured by the glitter of gilded fleece. Here there is no 


golden fleece, but precious gold is pouring in from all over. . . . 
Though Nature is wild here, and the nations bloodthirsty, we endure 
our sorrows and toil — for profits are important, the fatherland needs 
them. . . . We are not after rank or riches, but agreeable brother- 
hood. Yet what we have earned through striving and toil our descen- 
dants will give thanks for!" In 1818, at the age of 72, Baranof was 
retired. He attempted to make the long journey home, but died on 
the voyage and was buried at sea. 

The Indians were persuaded to return to their old home on Bar- 
anof Island in 1821. A mission church. Trinity, was built into the 
stockade in such fashion that it could be entered from either side. 
The inner door was kept barred whenever the outer one was open, 
but in 1855 the Indians made their way into the town through the 
church. A two-hour battle followed in which twenty Russians and 
sixty Indians lost their lives. 

When Robert Kennicott of the Western Union Telegraph Ex- 
pedition visited Sitka in 1865 he found it a town of 2,000, with 1,500 
Indians outside the fortifications. The buildings were built of squared 
logs washed with yellow ochre and had red metal roofs. High on the 
hill near the harbor stood the governor's house or "castle," a two- 
story frame building with a cupola. The Indian village stretched along 
the shore below Sitka. Outside a portcullised door in the stockade 
was the marketplace where trading booths were set up. Inside the 
town were barracks and clubrooms, warehouses, shipyards, flour 
mills, sawmills, and foundries casting brass, copper, and iron. There 
were three churches — a Lutheran, said to have a very fine pipe organ, 
the Indian mission, and the Cathedral of St. Michael. 

On October 18, 1867, two American generals, three navy captains, 
and 250 enlisted men stood in the rain before the governor's house to 
take possession of the new American territory. The Russian flag was 
lowered and the American raised in its place. Salutes were fired from 
the ships in the bay and answered by the wharf battery. Princess 
Maksoutof, wife of the governor, wept audibly from a second-story 
window in the castle. 

The adventurers who had accompanied the garrison took possession 
of Sitka in their own way. Within a week two saloons, two ten-pin 
alleys, and a restaurant were opened. Town lots were staked ofT 
and a real-estate boom got under way before it was realized that 


land claims were noi legal without a homcsicading act. The new 
proprietor of a sawmill instructed his subordinate to sell lumber at 
fifteen dollars a thousand except to the United States government and 
the Greek Russian church, which were to be charged twice that 
amount. The old residents of Sitka locked their doors at night, con- 
sidering the streets unsafe. 

Ugly rumors about the conduct of the newcomers in Sitka soon 
reached the United States. It was said that the Russians, who by treaty 
were entitled to American citizenship, had been driven from the 
town. General Halleck was sent to find out what had happened and 
reported that the Russians had indeed gone, but "our officers are cer- 
tain that no violence was used in getting them aboard the vessels in 
which they departed." 

On New Year's Day, 1869, a Chilkat chief was entertained by 
General Davis, and is said to have drunk too much. As he left the 
grounds he came upon a sentry. There was a skirmish in which the 
chief was kicked but escaped with the sentry's gun. A state of emer- 
gency was declared and all Indians forbidden to leave town. During 
the night a canoe put out from Sitka, was fired on, and a Kake and a 
Chilkat killed. Commander Meade, called on to help restore order, 
reported to the Navy Department, "A good deal of bad feeling exists 
between these Indians and the military, but their villages are remote 
from the sea and a man-of-war cannot get near enough to shell them." 

A month later two traders were found murdered in the vicinity 
of Sitka and General Davis recognized this as retaliation for the 
Indians killed on New Year's night. He promptly equipped the 
Saginaw and sailed for the Kake country planning "to seize a few of 
their chiefs as hostages." But news of his plan had preceded him, and 
he found the coast deserted. "Nothing was left to be done except to 
burn their villages and canoes, which I ordered to be done. Where the 
Indians fled we were unable to ascertain. Want of fuel prevented us 
from prolonging the search but the Sagitiaii' will leave here again in 
a few days to look after them again. ... I do not anticipate much 
difficulty in bringing the trouble to a close. I can see no ground for 
any serious outbreak. I feel master of the situation." 

This report brought a cry from the United States press to restore 
order in Alaska by removing the military. But the army remained 
master of the situation until the close of the Grant administration. 
By that time public opinion was strongly antimilitaristic, and Congress 


adjourned in 1877 without appropriating enough money to pay the 
men. Indian hostiUties were accordingly found to be at an end and 
the army was reduced to peacetime standard — the Sitka garrison 
being among many recalled. 

The white residents of Sitka believed that their life and property 
were endangered when the boys went marching home. But their 
complaints failed to impress sober Americans five thousand miles 
away, to whom the Indians appeared more like street urchins than 
fearful enemies, especially as, in the complaints, an economic interest 
in the presence of the troops was naively to the fore. The merchants 
were "discouraged," the departure of the troops had had "a damaging 
eflect on trade." The Indians were "bold and impudent." "They get 
drunk and swagger about town day and night and have no respect 
for the rights of the whites. Indians have already begun to plunder 
government buildings, carrying away doors and windows and tearing 
down the stockade for fuel." 

At the time Sitka claimed to be a town of 300 inhabitants, "most 
of them uncivilized and indecent," according to an army report. There 
were 33 American-born citizens of whom 15 were adult males, and 
the population was variously referred to as 15 or 300, according to the 
taste of the speaker. The New Yor\ Times chose to consider it a 
town of 15 in an editorial that voiced the general opinion on Alaska. 
"We are not told what these 15 men were engaged in doing, but it is 
obvious that they cannot subsist without an army to subsist upon. 
However, it would be cheaper to subsidize the citizens than to main- 
tain a garrison for them, and it would be cheaper to board them at 
Delmonico's than in Sitka." 

Undaunted, the people of Sitka carried on a publicity campaign 
in the American press. They reported coal and copper along Prince 
William Sound and described waters swarming with fish, and spoke 
of rich gold deposits in hard rock that needed only a little capital to 
be developed. Such reports, actually understatements of the wealth of 
Alaska, were in such glowing terms that they were not convincing. 
And they were embedded in strange charges which no one could take 
seriously from 15, or even 300 men: of "persistent efforts to decry the 
value of the Territory and discourage immigration," of "studied 
neglect by the government at Washington." 

The *'fifteen men" at Sitka were irrepressible. In 1879 they were 
fearing an "indiscriminate massacre." As this brought no response 


from Washington they appealed to a British man-of-war at Esquimalt 
to come to their aid until the United States could send help. The 
headline, "British Gunboat Protecting American Settlement," could 
not be ignored, and the revenue steamer Wolcott was sent to in- 
vestigate. The New Yorl{^ Times sighed, "If the Panhandle could be 
cut oH Alaska would be more symmetrical in shape and a great deal 
easier to govern." Dr. Elliott, a recognized authority on Alaska, 
having spent some time in the Pribilofs studying the seal, felt that a 
revenue cutter would solve everything. The savages, he explained, 
were compelled to live at the water's edge, and one small boat could 
"destroy their settlements in a few minutes and scatter the inhabitants 
like rats into the almost uninhabitable interior." 

Captain Seldens of the Wolcott reached Sitka after a "boisterous 
passage" and reported grave danger. The Indians had examined his 
boat and said they could capture it if they wished. According to 
Captain Seldens they "openly jeered" at the cutter. They were de- 
manding indemnity for some members of the tribe who had been 
killed, one of whom "drank himself to death last winter in the com- 
pany of a miner." The people of Sitka had "imprudently compromised 
the claim" by paying one-fourth the amount asked. When the re- 
mainder was not forthcoming a sub-chief had urged massacre and 
plunder. But his tribe opposed him in this and he had gone off, 
doubtless to find other backers. The Wolcott sailed away to watch 
for the fleet of hostile canoes which by that time should have been 
under way. The British man of-war remained at Sitka*. 

More embarrassed than alarmed, the Navy Department sent the 
steam corvette Alaska, with 15 guns and 230 men, to protect the town. 
Later Captain Brown of the Alaska reported that the "defenceless 
whites" had not fled the town but were planting gardens. 

The Alaska was relieved by the Jamestown, commanded by 
Beardslcy, who undertook to teach Sitkans civil order. He employed 
Native police for the Indians to minimize unfriendly contacts with 
his own men, and called a meeting of the people of Sitka to organize 
public opinion against the liquor traffic and to form a local govern- 
ment. The local government failed in ten weeks because the six dollars 
a month allowed for maintaining law and order did not provide a 
police force "of sufficient ability and courage." 

John Brady, a resident of Sitka who assisted Beardsley in restoring 
order, had been born in the slums of lower Manhattan, had been a 


protege of the Children's Aid Society of Indiana, and later managed 
to work his way through Yale and the Union Theological Seminary. 
He came to Sitka in 1878, and with the help of Miss Fannie Kellogg 
opened a school in the old Russian barracks. The following Christmas 
Miss Kellogg married the young missionary at Wrangell, Dr. S. Hall 
Young, the school was abandoned, and John Brady severed his official 
connection with the church to become manager of the Sitka Trading 
Company. A year later Miss Olinda Austin came to Sitka to reopen 
the school. From this time on the history of Sitka paralleled the 
history of the Presbyterian Church in Alaska. 

On the eve of Miss Austin's departure from New York, Dr. 
Sheldon Jackson depicted the life of the Indian woman. He had often 
heard of Indian women "leaving their cabins in the night and going 
into the forest with their little girls, where, after making a bed of 
leaves, they lulled them to sleep and left them to be devoured by the 
foxes, preferring that they should perish as innocent babes than grow 
up to know the degradation of womanhood. ... It is no uncommon 
spectacle in Sitka to see a woman ofler her own daughter for sale to 
any trader or person who will consent to buy her." Dr. Jackson's pleas 
on behalf of the Indians did more to awaken Congress to an interest 
in Alaska than all the petitions of the fifteen men, and the reverend 
gentleman succeeded in turning sympathy and good will into more 
solid support. Senator Vest said in 1898, "In the twenty years I have 
been in the Senate that distinguished divine has never been absent 
when an appropriation was to be made." 

Sheldon Jackson's energetic life was devoted to the welfare of the 
Indian. He introduced the reindeer in Alaska and founded many 
Native schools with government subsidies and private funds which 
he personally had raised. He had little sympathy for fellow Christians 
who left the narrow way, and he understood no law beyond that of 
his conscience. From a missionary he became General Agent for 
Education in Alaska, in which office it was alleged he saw fit to spend 
public money as seemed to him for the best. He endorsed the mine 
owners in their struggle with the organized miners. Although he 
was reverenced throughout the United States, he was bitterly opposed 
in Alaska. In 1886 and again in 1899 he was indicted on charges of 
mismanagement and misuse of government money. The implication 
that he had done this for personal gain was preposterous, and he rose 
from such attacks more powerful and more impressive than ever. 


In 1884 John Brady was made commissioner through Sheldon 
Jackson's inOuence. He was universally liked as an honest and kindly 
man. But in 1899, when appointed governor, he became the target 
for the popular opposition to Jackson, and his simplicity and unworld- 
liness served him badly. He told Washington that the people of 
Alaska wanted an elected delegate to Congress because "they would 
like the excitement and contention of an election," and advised 
Alaskans not to ask for statehood until the Territory was filled "with 
a desirable population such as we think will come." A Republican 
appointee himself, he gave a coveted office to a Democrat and aligned 
himself with the Reynolds Company against the Alaska Syndicate. 

Just as the economic center of Alaska had shifted from Kodiak 
to Sitka with the disappearance of the sea otter, now the discoveries 
of rich deposits of gold to the north made it shift to Juneau. When 
the Civil Code Bill was passed in 1900, Juneau was named the capital 
of Alaska. Governor Brady and the executive offices remained at 
Sitka, but in 1906 Theodore Roosevelt, acting on the report of a 
special investigator, Churchill, removed Brady and Jackson from 
office, and the new governor took up his duties at Juneau. Sitka has 
since been rarely disturbed by the gales of contemporary politics, and 
its inhabitants are content to have it so, content to preserve its natural 
beauty and the relics of its romantic and historic past. The principal 
industry is fishing. In 1936 the harbor commerce totaled 36,417 tons, 
valued at $5,350,000. During the 1937 season nearly 1,000 boats de- 
livered at Sitka 7,500,000 pounds of fish, valued at three-quarters of a 
million dollars. The town is equipped to accommodate visitors, with 
retail shops, hotels and restaurants, and transportation agencies. There 
are four churches: Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Greek 
Orthodox. The last still keeps the old Russian calendar, so that Sitka 
celebrates Easter and Christmas twice each year. 

Modern Sitka retains so much of its Russian past that Russian 
maps may still be followed in wandering among its points of interest. 
The pier at which the steamer docks is in the same location as the 
old Russian dock, and at low tide the timbers of the old hulk used 
for a landing stage by the Russians can still be seen. On the dock 
was the Russian landing warehouse (burned in 1916) in which were 
stored tea, chocolate, snufT, spices, hides, tallow, and many other wares. 

On the right upon leaving the pier the united states cable office 
(commercial telegrams accepted) occupies the site of an old Russian 


fur warehouse. Next to it is a three-story building, once a Russian 
barracks, used as a courthouse and jail. On the right is the new 
Federal building, which when completed will house Federal agencies 
and other government offices. Beyond and behind the Federal build- 
ing, on a knoll called "Keeker" by the Russians, rising abruptly 
from the edge of the bay, is the site of "baranof's castle" or the 
governor's house (grounds, reached by a stairway, open to visitors) 
on which stands a house (private), the property of the Department 
of Agriculture. The "castle" was built in 1837 and burned in 1894. 
Built of spruce logs bolted to the rock, this two-story building with 
a cupola was one of three or four buildings consecutively erected 
on this naturally fortified site, commanding the harbor. Here were 
given lavish dinners, at which as many as a hundred guests were 
seated, among them the wives and daughters of officials, in muslin, kid 
gloves and fans, the managers of the company in the gold lace of 
navy officers, their secretaries and clerks in the uniform of the Min- 
istry of Finance, priests and bishops in their clerical dress, and Yankee 
whaling captains and mates in their somber broadcloth. Here Baranof, 
though he never lived in the building, built two rooms for his pictures 
and books. Four seal-oil lamps with reflectors made the cupola the 
first lighthouse on the Pacific. Before the "casde," Prince Maksoutof 
transferred Russian America to the United States on a fall day in 1867. 

To the left of the hill, an open space that was the parade ground 
of the Russian and later the American garrisons is today occupied by 
the large three-story building of the alaska pioneers' home, estab- 
lished in 1913. The Home first occupied the abandoned buildings of 
the United States marine guard, and in 1914 the former residence of 
the governor of Alaska was added to these. The buildings were razed 
and work completed in 1935 on the present $250,000 concrete structure, 
which houses about 175 pioneers of Alaska — men who beat down a 
wilderness, who lived always in the presence of death, and did not 
provide for their own old age. 

The Pioneers' Home dominates the harbor. Left of the Home is 
a Federal public school, one of about 100 day schools for Natives 
operated in Alaska by the Federal government. Left of the school 
runs, along the waterfront, a street on which are the fish pier, ware- 
houses whose foundations date to Russian days, a pontoon plane 
landing, the Sitka Cold-Storage Company, and the buildings of the 
Sitka Wharf and Power Company. The waterfront street continues 


left to the Indian village, which smells of Indian celery and dandelion 
and drying salmon. The frame houses arc decorated inside with an 
odd conglomerate of Christian emblems, Indian tribal figures, and 
Chinese wares, these last relics of Yankee trade. In front of the house 
of Nuk-Wan, a famous canoe-builder, is a white carved statue of a 
bear, Nuk-Wan's crest. His widow had the statue carved for her 
husband's grave, but the priest, scenting heresy, persuaded her to 
keep it near the house. 

Straight ahead from the steamship dock through the center of 
town runs Lincoln Street, the Governor's Walk of Baranof's day. 
Along this thoroughfare, the principal street of the town now as in 
Russian days, Indian women spread out articles of their own manu- 
facture on steamer days for sale to tourists. Many of the original 
Russian buildings along this street have disappeared or have been 
repaired beyond recognition, but some of the shops still occupy old 
Russian structures. Among these, on the right, is the site of the 
FIRST CHURCH IN SITKA (1816) marked by a cross. Next to it is the lot 
formerly occupied by the Lutheran church, built in Etolin's day, in 
which the first church service was held after American occupation. 

Across the street, on the left, is the cathedral of st. michael 
(open during steamer hours; adm. 50 cents, which goes to the parish 
fund) built in the shape of a Greek cross, of logs covered with clap- 
boards, with a green roof and a green carrot-shaped belfry surmounted 
with a cross, a lower green turnip-shaped steeple over the apse. Sitka 
had no church building until 1816, but it was never without church 
services, and missionary work was done among the Indians from the 
first. In the early years Baranof stood godfather to as many as were 
converted and paid the mission for their baptismal presents. An entry 
in the church records, August 24, 1808, reads, "By grace of God, 
twenty-one pagans were admitted to the Orthodox Russian Church 
today with great ceremony. The baptismal presents on this occasion 
were furnished from the store of the Russian America Company 
and Mr. Baranof donated twenty-one silver rubles to the mission 
fund. Three of the persons baptized this day were found to have 
been Christians over two years. They were made to return their 

In 1812 the sloop-of-war Neva sailed for Sitka carrying clergy and 
many costly gifts from the Emperor. After its long journey of months 
at sea, it struck and sank off the shore of Mt. Edgecumbe. A few 


survivors reached the town and the precious ikon of St. Michael was 
washed ashore. A church was built in 1816 and richly furnished by 
Baranof and others. 

The present cathedral was begun in 1844 and dedicated in 1848. 
It was the fourth church in Russian America— the first had been built 
at Kodiak in 1795, the second at Unalaska soon after, the third at 
Sitka in 1816. Its chime of six bells, the smallest weighing 75 pounds 
and the largest 1,500, was the gift of the Church at Moscow. On 
feast days and holy days, here at the easternmost edge of the Russian 
world these bells echoed the ringing of all the bells in Russia. The 
belfry clock was made by the missionary priest, Father Veniaminof. 

The interior has three sanctuaries and three altars. The center 
sanctuary, the largest, is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Sep- 
arated from the main body of the church by a partition is the 
episcopal cathedral, an elevated platform. The partition is ornamented 
with twelve ikons, or holy paintings, covered with plates of silver 
repousse. The chapel on one side was dedicated in the name of St. 
John the Baptist by Prince Alexander Nevsky. The chapel on the 
other is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, and has the famous painting 
of the Madonna and Child framed in silver repousse. The vestments 
and vessels are rich and resplendent — the altar-cloth of gold was pre- 
sented to the church by Baranof. 

The burden of keeping up and repairing the church falls on the 
parishioners, as the Soviet government does not contribute to its 
support as did the Czar's regime. Among the parishioners are a very 
few remaining Russians, but most of them are Creoles and Natives. 

Straight ahead, or east of St. Michael's, is a residential district. 
Here the stockade ended, turning north uphill, and under its protect- 
ing shadow were the foundries, mills, and kitchen gardens. A modern 
sawmill marks the site of the old, at the mouth of the outlet to 
Swan Lake. 

On the left is the public library, in 1842 an orphanage. Baranof's 
1,200 volumes were lost some time after the American occupation, 
but whether they were carried ofl by the Russians, who left in the 
first year of army administration, or by the Indians when they were 
demolishing the stockade for fuel, is not known. 

Beyond the public library is the Episcopal church, St. Peter's by the 
Sea, built by Bishop Peter Trimble Rowe in 1899, and for many years 
considered the pro-cathedral of Alaska. Bishop Rowe was born in 


1856 and was sent to yMaska in 1S95. In k/^S he was still covering 
his wide territory hy plane and by dogsled, fulfilling the duties of his 

Beyond St. Peter's, on the left, is the sheldon jackson school. 
The octagonal building farthest east houses the smeldon jackson 
school museum (open during steamer and school hours; admission 
25 cents) in which are many interesting relics of Native and Russian 
life, and where handloomed textiles and curios made by the pupils 
are sold. 

This school, operated by the Presbyterian Board of National Mis- 
sions, is the only accredited private school in Alaska offering second- 
ary education to the Natives (for the two government schools, see 
Part II, I, Wrangell, and Part II, 5, Eklutna). It was founded in 
1878, and Mrs. McFarland's school at Wrangell was combined with 
it in 1884. Students are drawn from all parts of the Territory, repre- 
senting all of the Native ethnic groups, and coming from about two 
dozen towns and villages from Ketchikan to Barrow. The school 
gives a junior-senior high school course of grades 7-12, accredited by 
the Northwestern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. 
In addition to the usual academic subjects, there is strong emphasis 
on vocational training. Through weekday Bible classes for each grade, 
daily chapel and prayer groups, and a variety of student organiza- 
tions, the students are given definite training for religious leadership. 
The Verstovian is a monthly bulletin published by the school. 

Opposite the school, on the right, is the blarney stone (corruption 
of Baranof?) on which the aging Baranof is traditionally supposed 
to have sat and looked out over the bay. 

Governor's Walk now becomes Indian River Road, a translation 
of the old Russian name, that leads to sitka national monument 
(free). Beside the entrance to the park is a medallion set into a rock, 
dedicated to Elbridge W. Merrill, a Sitkan artist. The monument 
covers about 57 acres. Although reserved as a public park by President 
Harrison in iSgo, it was not until 1910 that it was established as a 
national monument by presidential proclamation. It includes the site 
of the ancient village of Kik-Siti Indians, who fortified themselves 
here in 1802 after their massacre of the Russians, and defended them- 
selves until the decisive "Battle of Alaska" in 1804. The graves of a 
Russian midshipman and six sailors killed in this battle are within 
the monument boundaries. 


Indian River Road follows the curve of the beach through a forest 
of spruce and cedar with a dense undergrowth. Set at intervals are 
sixteen tall, beautifully carved totem poles of Tlingit and Haida 
Indians, collected at different points on Prince of Wales Island, and 
the principal objects of interest in the monument. Several of these 
poles are unequaled as relics of the work of the geneologists of these 
Alaska tribes. They are of red cedar, gayly painted. The Interior 
Department is making every effort to preserve the poles, having the 
carvings restored by Indian workmen where vandalism has occurred, 
and repainting them as nearly as possible in their original colors. 
One of them is the house totem of Chief Son-i-hat of Kasaan. During 
the summer the park is not dark until after ten o'clock, and even 
later a cloudy sky will cast a theatrical glow over the forest and bring 
the totems to life. An interesting feature of the monument is the 
witch tree, where Indians formerly held trials for witchcraft and on 
which they hanged their victims. Near the sea is a restored Russian 
blockhouse built of timbers from the original structure. At the south- 
ern end of the park parts of the foundations of the old Tlingit fort 
can be found among the fern and wild flowers. A rustic bridge over 
Indian River leads to Mt. Verstovia. 

Retracing Indian River Road to the public library, Davis Road 
meets it and turns north. This military road, built to haul timber 
from the forest, was named for Gen. Jeff C. Davis, commander of 
the post, and leads to the military cemetery. 

Retracing Indian River Road to St. Michael's, a street turns north 
along the line of the old stockade. On a little knoll above the town 
was formerly a teahouse, surrounded by bordered walks and a public 
garden. Today the area is densely overgrown with brush and weeds. 
Farther along, on the left, were formerly three Russian blockhouses 
in the north wall of the stockade. Back of the site of one of the block- 
houses is the GRAVE OF PRINCESS AGLAiDA MAKSouTOF, who had bccn 
dead five years when her successor wept at the lowering of the Russian 
flag. The marble slab over the grave is the gift of an American 
lieutenant. At the end of the walk is the modern Russian cemetery, 
and in its center a platform from which there is a good view of the 
harbor, the islands, and Mt. Edgecumbe. Returning toward the steam- 
ship pier, a back street behind the Pioneers' Home leads past the 
Federal public school, to where the Indian village begins, stretching 
along the harbor front. The great Indian community houses have 


long since disappeared, as have the huge log canoes, the latter replaced 
by motor launches with such names as Bundle of Boards and Bubbles. 
In launches such as these, interesting trips may be made to the 
environs of Sitka. Mr. Edgecumbe (3,467alt.), discovered to be on an 
island by Captain Portlock in 1787, and first ascended in 1804, may 
be reached and climbed in a single day. Its crater, some 300 feet deep 
and three miles in circumference, is nearly filled with snow. Near it 
is St. Lazaria Island, a natural bird rookery. St. Lazaria was Chiri- 
kof's name for Mt. Edgecumbe. Old Sitka, 6 miles to the north, is 
reached by launch, but when the six miles of the Sitka Highway are 
completed, this spot will become easily accessible by automobile. The 
Forest Service has tentative plans for constructing a log lodge here 
for the use of the public (in which will be placed maps showing Old 
Sitka as it was), for refurbishing the grounds, and for locating the 
former buildings and stockade with markers. A series of excavations 
by the CCC under the direction of the Forest Service, completed in 
1935, brought to light a total of 696 relics, the great majority of 
Russian origin. The location of the old stockade, indicated by post- 
holes, was found and recorded. At a greater depth than the Russian 
relics were Indian implements, proving that before Russian days an 
Indian village stood there. By far the most important discovery was 
an iron plate nine inches square on which was riveted a bronze cross 
and two strips of bronze: one extending almost across the plate with 
an inscription in Russian reading, "Country in Possession of Russia"; 
the other and shorter strip inscribed, "No. 12." So far as is known, 
this is the only one of thirty copper shields made by Governor General 
Jacobi of Eastern Siberia in about 1785 and entrusted to the navigators 
of the Shelikof-Golvokof Company to place on newly discovered 
territories in Alaska. There is a definite record of shields numbered 
7, 8, 9, and 10 having been placed on Montague Island, Nuchek, 
Yakutat, and Lituya, but thus far none of these has been recovered. 
Mt. Verstovia (3,2i6alt.), reached either on foot through the Sitka 
National Monument or by boat, was so named because it rises nearly 
to the height of a Russian verst (3,500 feet). From its summit (use 
guide — trail not well marked) there is a splendid view of the harbor 
and its islands (of which it has been said that they could be mapped 
only with the liberal use of a pepper-shaker), and of glacier-clad 
peaks to the east rising for a hundred miles. Northward can be seen 
on clear days Mt. Crillon (i2,725alt.) and Mt. Fairweather (15,399 


alt.). Redoubt, io miles southwest of Sitka, reached by launch, is the 
site of a Russian fishery, where Globokoe, or Deep Lake, formed a 
live fish reservoir. Here also was a flour mill that ground wheat from 
as far south as California. Sitka Hot Springs at Goddard (p.o., lo 
pop.), 4 miles south of Redoubt and 15 miles from Sitka by launch, 
is a favorite health resort. Here a modern, comfortable hotel is owned 
and operated by the family of Dr. F. L. Goddard at the site of the 
five natural hot springs on Baranof Island to which the Russians 
frequently resorted. Guests may live in the hotel or in separate cabins, 
which like the hotel are heated by the natural spring water, with an 
average temperature of 145°. All modern conveniences, such as electric 
lights, radio, electric refrigeration, and electrical appliances, are avail- 
able. Vegetables served are grown in the vicinity, and fish, taken 
near by, are served in season. Trout fishing, hunting, and mountain 
climbing are favorite recreations. The spring water contains iron, 
chloride magnesia, sodium, sulphur, lithium, potassium, and radium. 
The Territorial legislature, in 1939, appropriated $20,000 for the pur- 
chase of the springs for the use of the Pioneers' Home. Baranof (p.o., 
i5pop.) is a cannery 25 miles east of Sitka. Chatham (p.o., 11 pop. est. 
1933) is on Chatham Strait, 65 miles northeast of Sitka. Port Alex- 
ander (p.o., 107 pop.) is a fishing village on the south point of Baranof 
Island. Port Armstrong (100 pop. est. 1933) is a cannery ten miles 
north of Port Alexander. 


Skagway — Whitehorse — Dawson — Fortymile — Fort Yukon 
Tanana — NuLATo — Holy Cross — Marshall. 


LEAVING JUNEAU, the steamer takes the Gastineau Channel 
southward as far as the southern end of Douglas Island, where it 
enters Stephens Passage and heads northward, with Admiralty Island 
on the left. Passing the north end of Douglas Island, Mendenhall 
Glacier is in the distance to the right. Leaving Shelter Island on the 
left and Sentinel Island lighthouse on the right, the steamer enters 
Lynn Canal, which extends 80 miles northeast from Chatham Strait, 
and was explored by Vancouver in 1794, who named it for his birth- 
place in Norfolk, England. The channel is filled with islands and 
hidden rocks; the shores are timbered mountain slopes with an occa- 
sional bare peak, broken here and there with a sandy beach where a 
river valley opens back to lake or glacier. Lynn Canal extends for 
about 55 miles to Seduction Point, where it divides into two arms, 
Chilkat and Chilkoot inlets. On the left or west, at the entrance to 



Chilkat Inlet, is Davidson Glacier, an outlet of Muir Glacier, shim- 
mering bluish green in the distance, and visible for 50 miles. The 
steamer follows Chilkoot Inlet, on the right or east, for about 12 miles 
in a northwestern direction, the channel having an average width of 
two miles. Again the channel divides, and the steamer follows the east- 
ern and principal arm, Taiya Inlet, which has an average width of one 
mile, northwestward for about 13 miles. On both sides are high 
mountains with glaciers in their gorges, and innumerable waterfalls 
and streams. 

Steamers touching at Haines usually dock at Chilkoot Barracks, 
a scant mile south of Haines, formerly Fort William H. Seward, 
and the United States' most northerly army post. A 42-mile highway 
connects the barracks with Pleasant Camp on the international 
boundary. Haines (p.o., 344pop. largely Native) is on Chilkat Penin- 
sula, near the head and on the west side of Chilkoot Inlet. From 
here Davidson Glacier sparkles in the sun, and to the north can be 
seen the famous peaks of the White (2,89oalt.), Chilkoot (3,50oalt.), 
and Chilkat (3,100 alt.) passes. Haines was once a trading post for 
the Chilkat and Interior Indians. The first white man to establish 
himself here was George Dickinson, agent for the Northwest Trading 
Company, who came in 1878. In 1881 the Presbyterian missionary 
S. Hall Young founded Willard Mission, later changed to Haines Mis- 
sion. In 1884 a post office was established under the name Haines, 
although the place was known at the time as Chilkat. 

Haines today is the outlet for the Porcupine mining district, and 
wagon roads connect the town with various camps. The principal 
local industries are fishing and fur farming. There are public schools 
for white and for Indian children and the Presbyterian mission main- 
tains an orphanage for Indian children. There is a post of the Alaska 
Native Brotherhood, a benevolent organization of Natives, here. In 
Pyramid Harbor, 2 miles from town, is a salmon cannery open to 

The country within a radius of fifty miles of Haines was originally 
the home of the Chilkats, whose name is given to the ceremonial 
blanket used by Tlingit tribes (see Part I, i, Juneau). At one time 
the name Chilkat meant the tribes living west of the Chilkat River. 
Those to the east were called Chilkoots. Ten miles above the river 
mouth is Chilkat Peak (6,58oalt.). Klukwan, or Chilkoot (97pop.), 


is a Native settlement on Chilkat River 25 nnilcs northwest of Haines, 
its post oflicc. The name is a Chilkat word, meaning Old Town. 
There is a Federal school for Natives here. 

An early description of Alaska, printed in April, 1867, before the 
purchase treaty had been ratified, made a clear distinction between 
the coastal and interior inhabitants of the country. The former were 
described as "industrious, peaceable, and teachable," and the latter as 
"peaceable." The industrious and teachable Chilkats had quickly 
learned the arts of the middleman. The marten skins, sold to the 
white man for a few cents, were bought from the Indians of the 
Interior for shockingly near nothing. Both the Indians and the white 
men knew this and were anxious to get at each other, but the Chilkats 
held them apart, concealing the mountain passes from the white 
traders and intimidating the Interior Indians with their superior, 
civilized weapons. In 1880 Edmund Bean and a party of miners found 
the Chilkat Pass and white men began to make their way across the 
great divide. There were strange stories of what might be seen in the 
wilderness beyond. Not only were mastodon bones found there, but, 
according to one story, a terrified Indian came running into camp one 
day saying he was being chased by an animal so large it hid the sun, 
and the white men who returned with him to investigate saw tracks 
in the snow that were two feet long and eight feet apart! 

The Chilkats were friendly to the white men when this did not 
hurt their trade with the Interior. In 1879 the naturalist John Muir 
and the missionary S. Hall Young entered Chilkat River on their 
return from Glacier Bay. They were halted by shots from a sentry, 
and explained that they were "a preacher chief and an ice chief" who 
wanted to talk. Their message was relayed to the village and men 
were sent down into the water to carry the canoe and its occupants 
to the chief's house. A great feast followed. Young preached for hours 
at a time, and when he was too tired to say more, Muir talked. When 
both men were exhausted the Indians made speeches. News of this 
meeting spread through the country, and Indians came great distances 
to see and hear. They stripped boards from the building where Muir 
and Young were lodged and peered down on them from the smoke 
hole in the roof. Finally Shathitch, head chief of all the Chilkats, 
arrived from Klukwan, twenty miles away. He was wearing a mag- 
nificent robe on the back of which was printed, "To Chief Shathitch 
from his friend William H. Seward." During the feast Muir and 


Young heard the crying of a newborn child whose mother was dead. 
The white men fed the hungry infant condensed milk and left their 
supply for it. Seven years later, the Chilkat boy whose life had been 
saved was sent to the Christians at Wrangell by the unconverted 
Chilkat tribe. 

Skagway (p.o., 492 pop.) is at the head of Lynn Canal on Taiya 
Inlet at the mouth of the Skagway River. The name is a Native 
word said to mean "home of the north wind." Dwarfed by the hills 
around it, the triangle-shaped town lies like a wedge against the icy 
mountains of the White Pass. Skagway is the terminus of the White 
Pass and Yukon Railway, and a port of entry for Canada. It is a 
shipping center and supply point for miners and trappers of the 
Yukon and Klondike districts. 

In 1897 there were two routes from Skagway to Dawson and a 
traveler could take the White Pass to Lake Bennett, or the Chilkoot 
from Dyea to Lake Lindeman. The White Pass crossed dangerous 
swamps on the farther side of the mountain, and most prospectors 
chose the Chilkoot. This trail reached an elevation of 3,550 feet and 
was so precipitous as to hardly be a "pass" at all. In Switzerland it 
would be classed as a dangerous mountain climb. But 25,000 people 
are supposed to have made it in 1898. All of them carried packs, and 
some were traders with large outfits. 

The route from Skagway to Chilkoot Pass leads through mosquito- 
infested flats to the now deserted town of Dyea. The fifteen miles 
from Dyea to the pass proper is along a narrow river valley, gouged 
out of mountains that rise to great heights on either side. The trail 
crosses the river fifteen times. Vegetation is sparse and ceases al- 
together, except for a few alders, as the trail ascends the mountain. 
At the timber line, a sharp turn to the right leads to Sheep Camp. 
From here the climb took six and a half hours, the ascent so steep 
that 1,500 steps were cut in the ice. 

In April, 1898, an avalanche of snow buried the line of climbing 
men from Sheep Camp to the summit. The slide began as blue 
smoke far up the mountain and swept across the trail in a blinding 
storm of snow and loosened rock. The men waiting in the camp 
below worked in relays to recover the victims. But the men at Dyea 
had little time for disinterring the certainly dead, and many bodies 
were never found. 


Ezra Meeker who crossed this pass in '98 with supphes for the 
Interior wrote, "Frequently every step would be full while crowds 
jostled each other at the foot of the ascent to get into single file, each 
man carrying from one hundred to two hundred pounds on his 
back. ... I reached Dawson with nine tons of my outfit and sold 
my first potatoes at $36 a bushel." 

The last half mile of the climb is at an angle of 45 degrees. "As 
we looked up that long trough of glistening ice and hard-crusted 
snow, as steep as the roof of a house, there was not one of us who 
did not dread the remainder of that day's work," wrote Frederick 
Funston, a United States army general who crossed the pass in '96. 
Three hours later the "narrow crest of snow and ice that divides the 
valley of the Yukon from the sea" was reached. Standing at the 
summit, "behind us and to the right and to the left was a jumble of 
ice peaks, and below the zigzag trail up which we had laboured so 
breathlessly. But these things were of small interest and our gaze 
was fixed ahead, where stretching away in billows of spotless white 
was the valley of the great river of the north. There was neither 
rock nor tree nor shrub nor any living thing to break the monotony 
of that huge blanket of snow, the wooded shores of the lakes being 
concealed by a range of low hills." 

The summit of the mountain pass was a pause, a breathing space, 
but not the end of danger. Across the glacier ice was Lake Lindeman, 
and from there travel was largely by water. But the water had its 
own hazards. Probably the most dangerous part of the journey was 
seventy miles beyond the lake. There the river closes in abruptly, 
pours through a narrow, dark channel and out over a series of rapids. 
Together, the canyon and rapids make five miles of seething water 
whose foaming mane has given the name Whitehorse to rapids and 

On July 29, 1900, the White Pass and Yukon Railway was com- 
pleted. One hundred and eleven miles of track now connected the 
port of Skagway with Whitehorse and the Yukon — salt water with 
fresh — and the journey to the Klondike was no longer hazardous for 
men or freight. 

The railway was financed by Close Brothers of London. Michael 
Heney, a Canadian of Irish descent, had the engineering genius to 
see the possibility of this road, and planned the route. E. C. Hawkins 
was the engineer in charge who solved construction problems. The 



work was done in two years. The road was laid along mountain 
precipices, across canyons, glaciers, and swamps. At one place a lake 
was drained, and the rails laid across its bed. Supplies had to be 
shipped from Vancouver or Seattle, a thousand miles away. 

Among the heroes of the Klondike days were the men who built 
this railroad and linked the Yukon to the Pacific. They worked 
suspended from the canyon sides by ropes, the glint of water far 
below them. Arctic blizzards brought snow blindness. But work was 
interrupted only twice — when a gold rush at Atlin drew off 1,500 
men in a few days, and when there was a strike during construction. 
Dr. Whiting, chief surgeon during construction of the railroad, and 
intimate friend of Michael Heney, says the strike was the work of 
"degenerate characters with criminal records in the states." The leader, 
"a powerfully built young Englishman," was caught. Dr. Whiting 
brought a rifle butt down on his head, leaving him "an unconscious, 
bleeding mass, helpless and harmless." The leader was imprisoned 
and "most of the men willingly returned to work, the agitators being 
weeded out." 

Skagway today has telephone service, city water, and electricity. 
There is a modern school system and a Catholic mission for Indian 
children. There are several churches and fraternal organizations in- 
cluding the Arctic Brotherhood, the Eagles, the Elks, and the Masons. 

PULLEN HOUSE, Standing on the site of Moore's cabin, is a modern 
steam-heated hotel accommodating a hundred guests, operated by 
Mother Pullen, one of the early pioneers in Skagway. In '97 Skagway 
was a town of between 10,000 and 20,000 people, and according to 
"Scotty" Allen, "There was only Moore's cabin on the beach and a 
string of tents put up in a semicircle on either side, which had 
sprung up over night. Craft of every description from small boats 
to ocean-going steamers were dumping into the make-shift village a 
crazily mixed mass of humanity under the worst conditions imagin- 
able." Among the "mass of humanity" dumped that September was 
Harriet Pullen, a thirty-seven-year-old widow from a Wisconsin farm, 
with four small children to support and seven dollars in her pocket. 
The early days in Skagway are seen at their best through Mrs. 
Pullen's eyes. She first discovered a great demand for apple pies. By 
February she had "built" enough pies to pay the freight on seven 
horses for which she had sent home. The harbor was overcrowded 
and the ship carrying the horses could not dock. The animals were 


walked ofF a plank into the water where Mrs. PuUen met them with 
a rowboat and towed them ashore. The harnesses had been stolen, 
and so the animals were rented out until they had earned enough 
to pay for new ones. Then Mrs. Pullen began trucking, carrying 
goods from Skagway to the White Pass and Chilkoot trails. In time 
she had a restaurant in town, and a truck farm and forty head of 
cattle at Dyea. Mrs, Pullen outlived two of her sons, one of whom, 
a West Point man, was cited several times for bravery during the 
World War. Today three rooms in Pullen House are set aside as a 
museum. Here may be seen the badges of honor won by Daniel 
Pullen, as well as Indian relics and souvenirs of the early pioneer 
days. Mrs. Pullen has many keepsakes of Soapy Smith — his roulette 
and faro tables, gun, iron knuckles, oil paintings, badge, watch, and 
first tombstone. 

Soapy (Jefferson Randolph) Smith was Alaska's great bad man. 
He looked the part, mounted on a white stallion, his black beard cut 
in a Vandyke, wearing a white silk shirt, large diamond stickpin, and 
wide sombrero. He began his career in Alaska by wrapping a cake 
of soap in a live dollar bill in the plain sight of everyone and selling 
the package (which did not contain the live dollar bill) for one 
dollar. He later "protected" the dance hall girls and robbed returned 
Klondikers of their gold. During the Spanish-American War, Soapy, 
wanted by the authorities in many states in the Union, got himself 
made recruiting officer at Skagway. A great many men enlisted in 
"Smith's Guard," but were kept busy in local matters, and none left 
Alaska. The outraged citizenry finally met to organize against the 
gunman. Soapy heard of the meeting and set out to attend it. A 
guard, Frank Reid, drew his gun on Soapy, and both were killed. 
Reid's tombstone is inscribed, "He gave his life for the honor of 
Skagway." Soapy's friends at his funeral remembered his kindnesses 
to dogs and children and repeated his aphorism, "The way of the 
transgressor is hard — to quit." In Skagway harbor today, a painted 
likeness of the racketeer's head is seen on a mountain jut, called 
Soapy Smith's Skull. His gambling parlor is now the property of 
Martin Itjen, who has carefully restored its 1898 appearance and 
maintains it as a "museum," with many famous characters present in 

Martin Itjen is also an early pioneer. He worked on a construction 



.HE usual way of reaching Alaska is to take the Inside 
Passage among the islands of the Alexander Archipelago as far north 
as Juneau, and from there cross the Gulf of Alaska to Prince William 
Sound. Even after airplane transportation has been fully developed and 
the International Highway has been laid, many tourists will want to 
travel by the Inside Passage. The tour is a very beautiful one and 
includes the principal industrial cities of Alaska. 

Inside Alaska, the chief means of transportation is the plane, which 
has supplanted the dog team for long-distance runs. In the northwest 
and the Interior the dog team now supplements the plane, carrying 
passengers and freight from the landing points as automobiles do 

The Alaska Railroad from Seward to Fairbanks follows the 
valleys of the Susitna, the Nenana, and the Tanana, serving gold 
mines, coal fields, and a rich farming area. This is the only route to 
Mt. McKinlcy National Park. The railroad bed runs along mountain 
sides, over high bridges and trestles and forms a complete loop above 
Placer River. The loop is in glacier country, and two miles beyond 
Placer River a glacier comes within three hundred yards of the track. 
The twin peaks of Mt. McKinley, sunlit at ten-thirty in the evening, 
are visible through a hundred and fifty miles of the route. 

There are eleven thousand miles of roads and trails in Alaska, but 
less than a quarter of this mileage is suitable for automobile traffic. 
Good roads exist in and around the principal cities, but the only system 
of connecting highways which totals more than a hundred miles 
radiates from Fairbanks. The Richardson Highway, 370 miles from 
Valdez, the Steese, 160 miles from Circle, and the ElUott, 85 miles 
from Livengood, meet at Fairbanks. 



Tourist Steamer 

■8 I" 

"-! mi- 

Pi iiA^f jJ|d& 

Aiiovi:: 7/;£' Inside Pussii^c 
below: Fishing Fleet 

above: Entcimg Ketcluk^an above: Lal^e Spenard 

below: Biirtlett Glacier from (he Alasl^a Railroad 


Abu\L: Ml. McKinUy at Xig/il 

below: Loop District on the Alasl{a Railroad 

Hurricane Gulch Bridge 

-£'±:\ River Bridge 


It * 



above: Old and New in Trc/risportunon 
below: T/ie Dog Team 

Highway Near Fail ban /{s 


gang on the White Pass and Yukon Railway, and later on the tele- 
graph line between Bennett and Dawson. He is the "designer, builder, 
owner, and driver" of the "Skagway Street Car," and conducts a 
two-hour sightseeing tour around Skagway. The "Skagway Street 
Car" was built in collaboration with Henry Ford and is the first 
wonder of the sight-seeing trip. After the visitor has become ac- 
quainted with this he will be shown all the colorful parts of Skagway 
with a flow of explanatory narrative. There are Jef? Smith's parlor, 
the graves of Jeff and his slayer Frank Reid, and the 300-foot falls 
named in honor of Reid. There are Pullen House, and the Catholic 
mission. Mr. Itjen also points out Blanchard's famous flower gardens 
— "the best in the north and a great many other places. They have 
taken prizes for the best flowers — even in California"; the tame fish — 
"They eat right out of your hand"; and the railroad shops — "All the 
people in this town who do not work the tourists, work here." 

There are numerous camping places in the vicinity of Skagway. 
These may be used for hunting (goats, bear, and mountain sheep) or 
fishing (salmon, trout, and grayling) or for mountain or glacier 
climbing, swiss chalet (40 minutes' walk from town along the 
mountainside to an altitude of 1,500 feet) is a building of roughhewn 
timbers equipped with cooking utensils and food supplies. It will 
accommodate more than a dozen guests for the night and is an 
excellent start for climbing Mt. Dewey (6,000 alt.), burro creek 
(15 minutes by launch across the bay from Skagway) is another excel- 
lent camping spot at the foot of Carter Mountain (4,700 alt.). Five 
miles from town by train and an hour's walk over a broken trail is 
Denver Glacier, an arm of the Taku, which may be climbed with 
the help of guides. 

At Skagway was founded in 1899 the fraternal organization. The 
Arctic Brotherhood. Captain William A. Council of the vessel City of 
Seattle organized a group of his passengers as the Brotherhood, while 
lying in the harbor of Skagway during the winter of that year. The 
order was made permanent at a meeting held in Skagway, and local 
chapters were established in practically every town of Alaska. 

Dyea, five miles across the flats from Skagway, was once the camp 
of 10,000 gold seekers, with their mules and possessions. In June, 
1898, the "Dyea Baseball Club, Champions of the North" defied 
Soapy Smith's men to meet them in open combat on the diamond. 


Today Dyea is a ghost town with one sohiary inhabitant and a square 
mile of homes and business houses. 


The Yukon is one of the largest rivers of the world and the largest and 
most important river in Alaska. It rises in Yukon Territory, Canada, flows 
across the international boundary and through interior Alaska, at one point 
crossing the Arctic Circle, and empties through a wide delta into Norton 
Sound on the Bering Sea. During the open season (June 10 to October 
5) the river is navigable from Bering Sea to Whitehorse, a distance of 
2,000 miles. The White Pass and Yukon Railway covers the no miles 
between Skagway and Whitehorse and is open all year. The journey from 
Whitehorse to Dawson is made by river steamer. 

During the gold rush "the Yukon" did not mean the river itself so 
much as the country drained by its headwaters, or what is now Yukon 
Territory. Small quantities of gold were found in this district as early as 
1850, and by 1895, between 500 and 1,000 men were prospecting along 
its creeks. In 1897 George Carmack made his fabulous strike on Bonanza 
Creek. A year later there were between 30,000 and 50,000 people in the 
Yukon — Jack London, Robert Service, Rex Beach among them. By 1900 
the rush had passed, a railroad had been built, and "the old days" were 
gone. But the trail of '98 is preserved for all time in firsthand descriptions 
of icy mountains, swift shallow waters, men sprawled dead beside the car- 
casses of horses on the trail or face down on the main street of a boom 
town after a drunken fight. Legend, as always, has preserved picturesque 
and violent exploits, and left largely unsung the modest and less colorful 
saga of the majority who built the Territory by their toil. 

Leaving Broadway Station in Skagway, the railroad passes through 
the town to the old White Pass trail, the deserted White Pass City 
where the gold seekers camped before starting up the canyon, and 
on over Dead Horse Gulch where pack horses, overtired and over- 
burdened, fell from the precipitous cliffs into the canyon beneath. 
At Rocky Point the railroad crosses the old trail. Rising 2,887 feet 
in 20 miles it reaches White Pass, the international boundary. From 
here the wild and rugged scenery of the first twenty miles gives place 
to the gentler contours of foothills. The trail descends by easy slope 
to 2,158 feet at Bennett, and then keeps a level course to Whitehorse. 

Twelve miles beyond the boundary is Log Cabin. This was once 


the headquarters for the mounted poUce in the Yukon, and is now 
the winter transfer-station for the AtHn mining district. Seven miles 
beyond Log Cabin, to the west of the railroad, can be seen Lake 
Lindeman, the end of the Chilkoot trail. A mile beyond is Lake 
Bennett and the end of the White Pass trail. 

Bennett (p.o.) was a town of several thousands in the boom 
days. Here the prospectors could buy a boat for fifty-five dollars or 
make their own of sawed lumber at seventy dollars per thousand feet, 
for the difficult journey down the Yukon to Dawson. Today empty 
cabins, stranded boat hulks, old diggings, and a log church on the 
hill remain to tell the story. The train waits at Bennett to give the 
passengers time for lunch and then continues, running along the lake 
shore for 26 miles. Snow-capped mountains are reflected in the blue 
water, and jagged rocks spot the shore. Unannounced, at Pennington, 
52 miles north of Skagway, the train crosses the boundary of British 
Columbia and is in Yukon Territory. 

Carcross (p.o., 300 pop. est. 1938) is at the north end of Lake 
Bennett and the first town reached in Yukon Territory. Between 
Lake Bennett and Lake Nares is a shallow stream two miles wide, a 
natural ford used by roaming herds of caribou. The town's name, a 
contraction of Caribou Crossing, was given it in 1904. Carcross is the 
transfer point for the Atlin mining district. The town has a good 
airport and a hotel. The principal industries are mining, fishing, and 
fur farming. Silver, red, and black fox are bred. 

The first white men who came into the territory found a village 
of Tahk-Leesh, or Tagish Indians at the crossing. The Natives in- 
habiting the inner slopes of the coast range and the headquarters of 
the Yukon were known to the whites as Interior, Wood, or Stick 
Indians. The whites found them a friendly but "miserable, dirty, and 
dejected people," and they were held in great contempt by the coastal 
tribes. Most of the Interior Indians were Athapascans; but the Tagish, 
living along the Lewes River, were a Tlingit tribe. Captain Raymond, 
charting the Yukon in 1870, commented on the prevalence of disease 
among these headwater Indians and attributed it to "their reckless 
exposure to the severity of the climate." He considered their con- 
dition alarming, as without the assistance of the Indians the profitable 
prosecution of the fur trade was impossible. 

Frederick Schwatka, coming into the country in 1883, found a 


lari,'e sctilcment of Tahk-Lcesh at the northern end of Lake Bennett. 
He observed that their standard of Hving was much lower than that 
of other Indians. Although hunters, they traded their furs and were 
poorly clothed themselves. They knew the advantage of trading di- 
rectly with the white men, but were too weak to force a passage to 
the sea. Most of them lived in terror of the Chilkats. One boy refused 
to take "a double-barreled shotgun, a thousand rounds of ammimition, 
a gold watch, two sacks of flour, and a camp stove" in exchange for 
a pair of shell earrings, because he had got these from a Chilkat. 
Schwa tka cites as further evidence of the subjection of the Tahk- 
Leesh that they used Chilkat place names and not their own when 
speaking to a Chilkat. He also mentions a Tahk-Leesh who stuttered, 
the only Indian he had ever seen with an impediment in his speech. 
Schwatka was born at Galena, Illinois, in 1849. After participating 
in the search in the Arctic for the Franklin expedition from 1879-80, 
he became in 1883 the first white man to explore the entire length of 
the Yukon River, describing the trip in Along Alaska's Great River 
(1885). The story of his expedition of 1886, instituted by the New 
Yorl{ Times, is told in A Summer in Alaska (1892). He studied law 
and medicine, and had considerable talent as a writer, apparent even 
in the official government reports of his expeditions. He died in 1892. 
At Carcross today is the Chootla Indian Residential School, con- 
ducted by the Episcopal church with government aid. Connection is 
made at Carcross for Atlin, the gold-mining headquarters of northern 
British Columbia. During the summer the trip is by steamer on 
Tagish Lake and Taku Arm; in winter it is made by stage. 

Atlix (p.o., 8oopop. est. 1938) is on the eastern shore of Lake 
Atlin. Its name means "big lake." Beyond is the Indian village, a 
line of log cabins fronting on a board sidewalk. Atlin is the center of 
a rich mining district of gold, silver, copper, and lead, and is the 
supply point for a larger district. Near by are mineral springs. The 
town was established in 1898. It has an Anglican and a Catholic 
church, public grade and high schools, and the St. Andrews General 
Hospital. The Atlin Miner, a weekly newspaper, is published here. 
Two hotels accommodate tourists. There is a registered seaplane base 
and an emergency landing field. 

Lake Atlin, 100 miles long and three to ten miles wide, is the 
largest lake in British Columbia. Its name is said to mean "lake of 


Storm." At its southern end is the great Llewellyn Glacier. Steam- 
boats run from Atlin to the foot of the glacier, which can be climbed 
to the summit in safety. Bear, moose, mountain sheep, and caribou 
are hunted in the near-by mountains; and trout, salmon, and herring 
are found in the lakes. 

Discovery, 8 miles from Atlin, where gold was found in 1898, is 
reached by stage. Here placer mining is still carried on, and the 
simpler methods of rocking and sluicing may be seen. 

Forty miles beyond Carcross the railroad meets the old trail at 
Miles Canyon and the Rapids. "The distance from the head to the 
foot of the canyon is five-eighths of a mile. There is a basin about 
midway in it about 150 yards in diameter. The basin is circular in 
form, with steep, sloping sides about 100 feet high. The lower part 
of the canyon is much rougher to run through than the upper part, 
the fall being apparently much greater. The sides are generally per- 
pendicular, about 80 to 100 feet high and consist of basalt, in some 
places showing hexagonal columns. 

"The rapids are about three-eighths of a mile long. They are the 
most dangerous rapids on the river, and are confined by low basaltic 
banks, which at the foot suddenly close in and make the channel 
about 30 yards wide. It is here the danger lies, as there is a sudden 
drop and the water rushes through at a tremendous rate, leaping and 
seething like a cataract." 

This description was written by William Ogilvie, years before gold 
drew a stream of adventurers down this course. In 1897, "many men 
who ran these dangerous waters had never handled a boat in their 
lives until they stopped at Lake Bennett to figure which end of their 
oar went into the water." According to the Klondike Nugget, "there 
was only a momentary hesitation, and, the one behind the other, the 
boats filed into that tremendous first section of the canyon, dodged 
the whirlpool in the middle, rushed down the second section of the 
canyon, tossed around for a while in the seething water of the Squaw 
rapids, made that stupendous turn into Whitehorse and an extra grip 
was taken on the oars, as with rapidly accelerating speed they plunged 
into the final chaos of angry water. . , . There being no darkness, 
there was nearly as many passing there at midnight as at midday. 
Weeks and months the procession continued, and only the ice of the 
fall put a stop to this, one of the most stupendous feats ever performed 


by a stampede of gold hunters. At the foot of Whitchorsc boats were 
bailed out and clothes and provisions laid out in the sun to dry after 
the drenching of the spray just received." 

In 1S97 Jack London earned $3,000 as a pilot on these waters. Soon 
after, five miles of tramway were built on both banks of the river to 
carry freight over the dangerous area. At the foot of the east-bank 
tramway grew up the old town of Whitehorse. The present town is 
at the foot of the west tramway, parts of which may still be seen. 
Here in '97 the most difficult part of the trip was passed; and here 
today the traveler leaves the railroad for a river steamer. 

Whitehorse (p.o., 541 pop.), no miles from Skagway, is the ter- 
minus of the White Pass and Yukon Railway and the head of naviga- 
tion on the Yukon. There is an aviation field here. During closed 
navigation, communication between Whitehorse and Dawson is by 
the Overland Route. Caterpillar tractors, horse stages, and dog teams 
are all used on this road. Whitehorse is the outfitting point for hunt- 
ing expeditions to the White River and Kluane Lake districts 150 
miles west, and the Pelly River and Macmillan River districts to the 
north and east. It is a copper-mining center and a number of wagon 
roads connect the town with near-by camps. There are several fox 
farms in the vicinity. Two hotels accommodate visitors. 

In the shipyards at Whitehorse can still be seen the rotting hulls 
of boats abandoned after the gold rush. The town was destroyed 
by fire in the spring of 1905, but many well-constructed buildings 
have been erected since. There are two churches, St. Andrew's United 
and the Old Log church of which Robert Service was at one time 
warden. A park has been dedicated to Service by the townspeople, 
and the cabin of "Sam McGee" is open to visitors. An automobile 
road leads from Whitehorse to the head of Miles Canyon, with a 
footpath running close to the water. Here may be seen the remains 
of the old tramway. A suspension footbridge across the canyon gives 
a good view of the dangerous waterway, 

A 150 mile trip from Whitehorse to Kluane Lake may be made 
over a wagon trail. Sixty-four miles from Whitehorse on this road 
is Champagne Landing (p.o.), a fur-trading post and Indian village. 
Kluane Lake is in unusually beautiful country and a center of big- 
game hunting. Moose, caribou, bear, mountain sheep, and goats are 
found here; there is a roadhouse, and guides are available. 



The trip from Whitehorse to Dawson is 460 miles and takes a day and 
a half. It is made in shallow-draft, flat-bottomed river boats, propelled by 
a paddle wheel in the stern. 

Twenty-five miles beyond Whitehorse the steamer enters Lake 
Laberge. There is excellent trout fishing here, and during the gold- 
rush days fish was sent from this lake to Dawson in ton loads. The 
water is icy cold and an upset boat meant almost certain drowning. 
This is the scene of Service's "Cremation of Sam McGee." Sam's 
partner, trying to cremate the frozen body in the boiler of a derelict 
boat, looked in to see how it was going. He saw a smiling corpse 
who said, 

Please close that door. 

It's warm in here, but I greatly fear that you'll let in the storm. 
Since I left Phimtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been 

The stream beyond Lake Laberge is known as Thirtymile River. 
Here came the miners and adventurers who had dried themselves in 
the sun at Whitehorse. "Over Lake Laberge went the white fleet of 
unpainted boats, and then came the final tug-of-war in Thirtymile 
River which wrecked more brave fellows in a day than Whitehorse 
did in a week. Sunken, treacherous rocks; a shallow rapid current 
reaching a speed in places of nearly ten miles an hour; gravel bars 
over which the rapid waters were lashing into foam which concealed 
protruding boulders and impassable shallows; mammoth rocks stand- 
ing in the river in groups, against which the current would dash itself 
in impotent fury, carrying everything which floated upon its surface 
with a devilish malignity and well nigh irresistible force upon those 
flinty points which could and often did break a heavily built scow 
into two or three pieces." At Hootalinqua the Thirtymile River unites 
with the Teslin to form the Lewes, and from here to Dawson the 
route offered no serious dangers. 

Hootalinqua, a small trading post at the confluence of the Thirty- 
mile River with the Teslin, is now chiefly of interest to big-game 
hunters. The country abounds in. moose, caribou, sheep and bear; 
grouse, waterfowl, and fish are also abundant. 


In 1880 Edmund Ikan and his party crossed the Chilkoot Pass 
and traveled as far as HootaHnqua without hnding gold. During the 
stampede era many prospectors reached the Interior by the Stikine 
River, north of Wrangell. From here they traveled overland to the 
Teslin, and joined the stream of Klondikers at Hootalinqua. 

Twenty-seven miles beyond Hootalinqua is Cassiar Bar, the famous 
"diggin's" in the SemenofI Hills where placer gold was found in 
1886, ten years before George Carmack made his strike on Bonanza. 

Big Salmon is a fur-trading post and miners' supply station at the 
mouth of the Big Salmon River, thirty-five miles beyond Hootalinqua. 
In 1881 four miners coming from the Chilkoot Pass reached the Big 
Salmon. They entered this stream and discovered gold in small 

Little Salmon, 70 miles from Hootalinqua at the mouth of the 
Little Salmon River, was once the largest Indian camp on the Yukon. 
It was a trading post and had an Episcopal church. When the trading 
post closed the Natives were dependent on the river for food. 

Carmacks, or Tantalus (p-o.), is a coal-mining village on the left 
bank of the Lewes below Little Salmon. A mile beyond the town is 
Tantalus Butte, a high bluff that tantalizingly seems to get no nearer 
as it shows time after time from the winding river. A good grade of 
bituminous coal is mined here. The overland trail from Whitehorse to 
Dawson touches the river at Carmacks. A mail stage covers this route 
three times a week. 

At Carmacks the Nordenskiold enters the Lewes and greatly aug- 
ments the stream. A short distance beyond are the Five Finger Rapids, 
225 miles from Whitehorse and the half-way point to Dawson. Four 
rock towers, their tops fringed with stunted spruce, almost choke the 
river, forming five channels through which the current tears with 
great velocity. The rapids are formed by these islands in the channel 
which back up the water, raising it about a foot and causing a swell 
below for a few yards. The islands are of the same conglomerate as 
the clifTs bordering the river and apparently fell from these at some 
time in the distant past. Only one of the channels, the westernmost, 
is navigable for river steamers. 

Below Five Fingers are the eddies of Rink Rapids, and beyond is 
Yukon Crossing, where the overland trail crosses from the east to the 


west side of the river. The road runs for 45 miles along the flats of 
the river bank, climbing the steep slopes when these are undercut 
and impassable at the water level. Minto Bridge is a roadhouse station 
20 miles below Yukon Crossing. Hellsgate, some miles beyond Minto, 
was once a difficult stretch of "bad water." but the channel has been 

Selkirk, at the junction of the Lewes and Pelly rivers, is a settle- 
ment with an Episcopal mission. It is a trading center for trappers 
from the Pelly and Macmillan districts. 

In 1840 Robert Campbell, an officer of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, was sent out to follow the Liard to its source and find another 
river flowing westward. He found the stream, which he named in 
honor of Sir John Henry Pelly, governor of the company, and fol- 
lowed it to its junction with the Lewes, named for John Lee Lewes, 
chief factor of the company. 

Campbell established Fort Selkirk in 1848 at the junction of the 
Pelly and the Lewes against the advice of local Indians, who warned 
him that tribes to the south would be hostile. In 1850 Campbell con- 
tinued his explorations down the Yukon, and was the first white man 
to pass the mouth of the Klondike. He reached Fort Yukon, a Hud- 
son's Bay post that had been established in 1847. From here the furs 
assembled at Fort Selkirk could easily be sent along the familiar 
Porcupine and Mackenzie rivers to company headquarters. 

The hostile Indians to the south were the Chilkats, whose trade 
between the Interior Indians and the coast was threatened by this 
outpost of the white man from the east. On August 21, 1852, they 
raided Fort Selkirk, carried away guns and ammunition, and cached 
the other supplies. These were later found and appropriated by the 
local Indians. Campbell returned to the fort two days after it had 
been demolished. He sent his men to Fort Yukon for the winter, and 
set out for London to get permission to rebuild the post. There were 
10,000 miles between London and Fort Selkirk, and 3,000 of them 
were an uninhabited wilderness which Campbell crossed on snow- 
shoes in the middle of winter. He failed to get the permission, and 
the fort was abandoned. 

In 1885 Al Harper, primarily a prospector for gold but also a fur 
trader in the employ of the Alaska Commercial Company, established 
a post, Selkirk, on the site of the old fort, but moved to Ogilvie at 


the mouth of Sixtymile when the Pelly showed no signs of bearing 

Near the mouth of the Pelly can be seen the crater of an extinct 
volcano, and volcanic ash is found throughout the valley. On the 
level land near the water is one of the largest farms in the Yukon, 
where hay, vegetables, and cereals are regularly grown. Immediately 
below the mouth of the Pelly are ten miles of steep clilTs that mark 
the Upper Ramparts of the Yukon. The Yukon technically begins 
with the junction of the Pelly and the Lewes, although it is common 
practice to consider the Lewes part of the Yukon, and the Pelly a 

While the Hudson's Bay Company men were reaching the head- 
Avaters, other traders were making their way upstream from Norton 
Sound. In 1778 Captain James Cook sailed near its mouth, but missed 
the river. Naval Officer Vasilief explored Bristol Bay and Norton 
Sound in 1829, and the following year a large part of the lower 
Kuskokwim River, already known to the Russians. Here he heard 
of a great stream to the north. In 1831 Tebenkof built St. Michael on 
Norton Sound near the mouth of the Yukon, and three years later 
a party under Glazunof reached Anvik on a river called by the 
Eskimos Kvikhpak {\vi\h, river, pa\, large), which the Indians who 
lived along its interior length called Yukon. A Greek Orthodox 
mission was established here in 1843. In 1838 Malakof had reached 
Nulato overland and built a trading post, burned the following winter 
by the Natives. It was rebuilt and fortified in 1842 by Lieutenant 
Zagoskin, who mapped 600 miles of the "Kvikhpak" between '42 and 
'44. He gathered valuable trading information for his company and 
was on friendly terms with the Natives. By 1863 Russian traders and 
explorers had reached Fort Yukon. Meanwhile the British were explor- 
ing the upper regions of the river. Robert Kennicott of the Western 
Union Telegraph Expedition was the first American explorer to 
traverse a large part of the Yukon, in 1861 and 1865. Strahan Jones, 
commander of Peels River Fort, in 1863 descended the Yukon to the 
mouth of Novitna River, the uppermost point reached by Zagoskin. 
Thereafter successive American expeditions rapidly made the Yukon 
known, among them Dall, Whymper, Raymond, Schwatka, Richard- 
son, and Brooks. By the late 1890's boom gold towns were located 
along the river and a flotilla of large river steamers plied its length. 
Less than a generation later the river steamers had all but disappeared. 


St. Michael was the boneyard of old ships, many of the boom towns 
had become ghost villages, and the Yukon had returned to its dor- 
mant, lonely state, awaiting the slower but surer development of agri- 
culture and industry before it could again be awakened. 

Of the Yukon Dr. Ales Hrdlicka, who has made archeological 
investigations along its banks, says, "The river remains but half 
known, at best. It has never been fully surveyed, which would be a 
vast and unending task. It contains a large number of barely known 
little tributaries that are lost in the jungle-covered flats with their 
many pools and lakes. It has innumerable islands and channels in 
which the traveler is easily lost, and it cuts and builds constantly 
during the open season. Its valley is squally and rainy. The stream 
may one moment be like a great, liquid, softly flowing mirror, to be 
in a few minutes churned into an ugly and dangerous roughness 
from which every smaller boat must seek shelter. Its shores are in- 
hospitable, except for the Native fisherman and hunter, and torment 
man with swarms of gnats and mosquitoes. But there is no malaria; 
there are no snakes or other poisonous things. And when the weather 
is decent the water, the wooded shores, and the fresh, clean, virginal, 
parklike islands have a greatness and charm that compensate for 
much. Besides which there is the still more intensive allure of original 
exploration. Botany, zoology, and above all paleontology find here 
still a fruitful field, while for anthropology, and especially archeology, 
the land is still largely a terra incognita." 

Since the Yukon is easily navigable for small boats, it must have 
played an early and important part in peopling Alaska before the 
coming of the white man. The upper regions were populated by 
Indians, whose villages can be traced by their characteristic tool — 
a double-grooved, cupid-bow ax of stone. The lower regions were 
peopled by Eskimos, who used a stone ax with a single edge, or 
sometimes the Indian tool, which they adapted to their tradition 
simply by breaking oil one end and hafting it like an adze. The 
Eskimos made their dishes of wood, the Indians, of birch bark; the 
Eskimos used skin canoes, the Indians, bark canoes. Neither deformed 
their bodies, heads, or teeth; but Eskimos wore labrets and the 
Indians, nosepieces; and the Eskimos cut their hair short, the Indians 
left theirs long. The Yukon winter houses were subterranean rooms 
with a tunnel or corridor, framed with stout posts and covered with 
birch bark and sod, the smoke-air-light hole at the center of the top, 


and a fireplace in the middle of the floor. Each village had a com- 
munal house. Summer houses were made of skins — later, with the 
coming of the white man, of canvas. 

The Yukon Indian tribes had many names, and usually each tribe 
had two sets — one used by themselves, and the other contemptuously 
by outsiders, thus occasioning great confusion among early traders. 
All the Yukon Indians belong to the Tinneh, or Dene, family. Their 
winter villages were permanent, as they lived in fishing camps during 
the summer. In 1843 Zagoskin counted 1,359 Yukon Indians by adding 
up the population of all villages known to him. Dall estimated in 
1866-7 that there were 2,800 Yukon and Tanana Indians and 1,000 
Yukon Eskimos. Today there are not more than 1,000 remaining 
Tinneh (probably fewer), and most of these are of mixed blood. 
Most of the old Yukon Indian villages have disappeared, and new 
villages sometimes bear new names corrupted from the English (as 
Ulstissen, for Old Station). Most of the old Eskimo villages have also 
disappeared or been deserted, although the hardy Eskimos have man- 
aged to survive in better condition than the Indians. But there was 
never enough fish and game in the Yukon watershed for primitive 
man to occupy it in great numbers. 

The 500 miles from Selkirk to the Arctic Circle are caribou 
country, and evening after evening Indian campfires are spotted on 
the river's shore, and the smell of broiling caribou meat drifts across 
the water. The country is infested with great swarms of mosquitoes. 
A "tall story" recounts how they attack and kill even bears. However 
that may be, they certainly reduce the number of caribou hunters in 
the territory. The barren ground caribou is highly valued, because its 
meat is the chief item of diet to the Native population in most of 
interior Alaska and Arctic Canada. Its skin is used for clothing, and 
no manufactured cloth equals its resistance to wind and sub-freezing 
temperatures. The caribou which migrate north each year in July, 
crossing the Yukon between Selkirk and Circle, are becoming greatly 
depleted in numbers. Some large herds may still be seen, although 
generally it is their ribbed tracks which show that they have passed 
that way. Caribou can swim long distances protected by air in and 
between the hair of their thick coats. Their ordinary speed of two 
miles an hour may be increased to five, if necessary. 

The 178 miles downstream from Selkirk to Dawson are made 
in fast time, the steamer rounding one large bend after another. The 


White River, rising from the glacial beds of the St. Elias Range along 
the international boundary, pours its milky water into the clear green 
of the mother stream. From this point on the Yukon is clouded and 
muddy, and fish wheels appear along the banks. These traps are used 
in all muddy streams where the fish cannot see the scoop. The wheel 
is turned by the current and is usually flanked by covered racks of 
red split salmon. 

Stewart is on the eastern bank of the Yukon at the mouth of 
Stewart River. The town is a transfer point for the silver-mining 
district around Mayo. 

Stewart River was discovered in 1849 by James Stewart, Camp- 
bell's assistant clerk, who was sent out from Fort Selkirk to follow 
the Indians in search of food. He found this river and crossed it on 
the ice. Placer gold mining began along the Stewart River in 1885. 
The following summer a hundred miners were working in the dis- 
trict, each frequently making as much as one hundred dollars a day. 
That year the prospecting fur traders Harper, McQuesten, and Mayo 
established a post at the mouth of the Stewart and another at Forty- 
mile, prospecting along the Fortymile, Sixtymile, Tanana, and White 
rivers while carrying on their trade for the Alaska Commercial Com- 
pany. The townsite of Stewart was staked out in 1898 under United 
States pre-emption laws, but the Alaska boundary award placed it 
under Canadian jurisdiction. 

Jack London's one winter in the Yukon was spent at Stewart, 
where he was snowbound on his way to the gold fields. He spent the 
winter with Capital, The Origin of Species, Paradise Lost, a volume 
of Kipling, and seventy human beings — Burning Daylight, Pruette, 
Malemute Kid, Yellow Legs, and the rest of them who were to live 
in the pages of The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and other stories. 

Placer gold is still found on the upper tributaries of the Stewart 
River, but silver mining is now the chief industry in the district. 
Here modern, efficient methods are used. Officials, mail, and express 
are carried by plane, and ten-ton caterpillar tractors haul freight. The 
shipped ore is sent down the Stewart River on barges. 

Mayo Landing (p.o.) on the right bank of the Stewart River, 180 
miles from the Yukon, is the administrative and commercial head- 
quarters of the silver-mining district. Truck and tractor roads connect 
the town with the mines on Galena and Keno hills. 


Mayo Lake (2,oooalt.) is in a good game district. Mountains over 
4,000 feet high are reflected in the cold, clear water of the lake. 

The 72 miles from Stewart to Dawson are made down an island- 
filled stream, where moose and black bears feed on the open hillsides. 
Sixtymile River is passed on the left, and opposite on the east shore 
of the Yukon is Ogilvie, the trading post established by Harper in 
the 8o's. Beyond Ogilvie, Indian River flows into the Yukon from 
the east. A short distance before Dawson, on the west bank, is Swede 
Creek. There is an agricultural experiment sub-station here, where 
wheat has been grown to full maturity. From Swede Creek can be 
seen the great slide above Dawson, and the traveler may experience 
some of the gold hunters' excitement as he catches sight of the white 
scar on the mountainside that marks the end of the trail, the mouth 
of the Klondike, and the town of Dawson. 

Dawson (p.o., 1,000 pop. est. in 1938) is on the east bank of the 
Yukon at the mouth of the Klondike. Spruce-covered mountains close 
in behind the town; wharves and warehouses line the shore. On the 
waterfront there is always something of interest. Boats from the lower 
river, the interior of Alaska, or from the silver camps on the Stewart 
River may be in port. In the town, wide streets slope down in a 
southwesterly direction from the foot of the hills to the landings on 
the river bank. The stores have plate-glass windows, and the dwellings 
are largely white frame buildings. Dawson is the capital and admin- 
istrative center of Yukon Territory. It is also the distributing point 
for the Klondike gold area to the southeast. The town has a telegraph 
station, electricity, telephone, and water service. There are two 
churches, and several hotels. Twelve miles from Dawson, in the Klon- 
dike River Valley, is an airplane landing field. The White Pass and 
Yukon steamer remains in dock twenty-four hours before making 
the return trip. Passengers may wait over for a later boat. 

In 1895, Robert Henderson, who had been prospecting throughout 
the Indian River watershed, made a strike in Gold Bottom. The next 
summer as he was going down the Yukon for supplies he saw 
George Carmack and two Indians, Tagish (Tahk-Leesh) Jim and 
Tagish Charlie, fishing for salmon at the mouth of the Tron-Deg, 
or Klondike. This was a famous salmon stream, and the Native name 
is said to mean "hammer-water" from the trap stakes which were 
hammered into its bed, although some authorities say it means simply 


"river full of fish." Henderson, according to a miners' custom, told 
his friends of his find in Gold Bottom and advised them to stake 
claims there. He also advised them to prospect along the creek that 
is now called Bonanza and send him word if they found anything. 

The three men filed claims in Gold Bottom and then entered 
Bonanza Creek valley. On August 17th, 1896, they struck placer 
gold in extraordinary quantities. Carmack washed out $238 in one 
pan, and is said to have carried this about with him ever after. 
Discovery Day is still celebrated in Dawson and other parts of the 
Yukon. The excited men hurried to Fortymile to file their claims 
and forgot to notify Henderson. At once a stampede began from the 
near-by mining districts and for two years gold seekers streamed over 
the Chilkoot Pass into the valley of the Klondike. By the spring of 
'99 practically all the creek beds in the area had been staked. Hender- 
son, working alone on Gold Bottom, less than a day's journey from 
the strike, did not hear of it until too late to file a claim in good 
ground. He felt that he was the true discoverer of the Klondike 
gold, and as such was awarded an annuity of two hundred dollars a 
month by the Canadian government. As for Carmack, he claimed to 
have gotten only about $60,000 from his discovery — remarking that 
relatives who managed his affairs for him got the rest. 

The town of Dawson was established in 1898 and named for the 
director of the geological survey for Canada, Dr. George Mercer 
Dawson. Administrative authority for Yukon Territory had been 
established at Fortymile in 1895. In '98 it was transferred to Dawson, 
which in a few months had become the commercial and social center 
for 30,000 fortune seekers. Here on the flats of two river banks was a 
city of trampled mud streets, saloons, gambling houses, and theatrical 
shows. The saloons frequently took in as much as six thousand to 
eight thousand dollars a day. They were not merely places where 
men drank, but offices for important business transactions. Here men 
came to sell claims which they thought were worthless for as much 
money as they could find on a drunken newcomer — claims which 
more than once proved to be worth fortunes when the sober, desperate 
chechakho began to work them, because there was nothing else 
he could do. 

There were many who were not miners in the jostling, shouting 
throngs that filled the Dawson streets. In the crowded dance halls 
the miners led glittering ladies through the measures of After the 


Ball Is Over and See Me Dance the Poll{a, at a cost of a dollar a 
minute. Traders wiio had packed tons of freight down the dillicult 
trail felt justified in asking whatever the town could pay for 
their wares. Condensed milk sold for $3 a can; eggs, $18 a dozen; 
sugar, $100 a sack; butler, $10 for a 2'/2 lb. can. A bowl of soup in 
a restaurant cost a dollar. Newspapers brought high prices from men 
who were starved for news of the outside world. A Seattle paper sold 
for $10, and the buyer rented it out in a dance hall for $2.50 a reading. 
When the Dawson market for this particular paper was exhausted 
it was taken into the smaller settlements. 

Dawson did not lack spiritual comforts. In spite of the incredible 
hardships involved, the Roman Catholic priest Father Judge and the 
Presbyterian missionary S. Hall Young reached the Klondike in the 
summer of '97. Before the fall of '98 they were joined by three other 
priests, a Presbyterian and a Methodist minister, and eight Salvation 
Army officers. The Christian Science Society of Dawson was not 
organized until 1912. 

Among the fortune seekers in the makeshift town on the Klondike 
were Jack London, Robert Service, Rex Beach, Joaquin Miller, and 
E. H. White. Jack London saw only as much of this country as he 
needed to love it — the immense tracts of wilderness, solitude, phys- 
ical hardship and danger, the perfect setting for the primitive drama 
of life. All that went on in the Dawson saloons — except the drinking 
— all the intricate struggle of cheating, was antipathetic to this twenty- 
one-year-old boy. He stood in the midst of this and heard only tall 
stories of adventure. The undernourished, rebellious young giant 
came down with scurvy in his one winter at Stewart. He left the 
Klondike that June and made his way back to California by follow- 
ing the Yukon to its mouth. 

Robert Service worked in Dawson as a bank clerk. Out of his 
daily life he built a glamorously strange town of prospectors, dance- 
hall women, and gambling men that made him a popular poet. The 
best loved of his works are Songs of a Soitrdoiigli and The Shooting 
of Dangerous Dan McGreiv. 

Rex Beach, a football player and Olympic swimming champion, 
was drawn to the Klondike. Not finding a fortune here he spent two 
years wandering through Alaska. Returning to Chicago, he found a 
wealth of memories out of which he produced The Silver Horde, 
The Iron Trail, and many other novels of the north. 


Joaquin (Cincinnatus) Miller, a protege of Rossetti and widely 
acclaimed as the Poet o£ the Sierras, was sent to Dawson as a feature 
writer for the New Yorl^ Journal. Cincinnatus Miller had had a varied 
life. Born, according to his own account, in 1841, in a covered wagon 
"at or about the time it crossed the line dividing Indiana from Ohio," 
he grew up to be a professional horse-thief, teacher, lawyer, editor, 
poet, vigilante, and judge. His poems had "brought to the calm air of 
literary London a breath of the great winds of the plain." But this 
wind was not a marketable commodity in Dawson, and Miller left 
without making any mark on the town or being impressed by it 

E. H. ("Stroller") White arrived in Dawson penniless with a wife 
and young baby. He originated a humorous letterhead that sold in 
large quantities at two dollars a dozen. Tourists still find it amusing 
to write home on the stationery of a fictitious Sourdough Hotel. His 
wit finally brought him a job on the Klondike Nugget, the Dawson 
daily which sold for a dollar a copy, and his column The Stroller 
has become part of Yukon history. His news stories did not always 
come across the telegraph lines, and imagination played a large part in 
filling the columns of the Klondike Nugget. During one of the blank 
periods White wrote a story about a night when the thermometer 
hit 70° below. Blue snow fell, and ice worms, drawn to the surface 
by the low temperature, made such a chirping that the people of 
Dawson could not sleep. Scientists in London and Washington were 
taken in by the yarn. White says, "The Nugget office was besieged 
by eager questioners. It did no good for me to assure them that the 
blue snow and the ice worms had no existence outside my imagina- 
tion. They accused me of trying to keep information from them. 
They insisted on details." No newspaper man could withstand that, 
and he gave them details. Saloonkeepers began to sell "ice-worm 
cocktails," with a bit of spaghetti embedded in the ice. Since the hoax, 
certain animalculae living in pools found on the surface of glaciers 
have been called ice worms. But these are not the interesting variety 
Stroller White had in mind. 

Noisy, crowded Dawson was built of wooden shacks and was 
twice swept by fire. On October 14, 1898, a fire started in the Green 
Tree Saloon and Hotel and destroyed buildings and supplies valued at 
five hundred thousand dollars. Six months later, on April 26, 1899, a 
second fire destroyed property valued at twice that amount. 


But many vestiges of the gold-rush period escaped the fires. The 
dance-hall decorations, dusty but still naughty, remained to face an 
empty floor that once had been crowded with miners and gold- 
digging ladies. Service's cabin, built against the steep hillside at the 
head of a street, is open to visitors. A walk to the Indian village, 
Moosehide, two miles north of town, leads along an old flume built 
for mining. 

Midnight Dome is a 4,220-foot elevation, twenty miles from Daw- 
son. The summit is reached by automobile, and gives a panoramic 
view of the entire Klondike area. To the north is the Klondike, to 
the south the Indian, both flowing west into the Yukon. Gold-carrying 
creeks surrounding this peak in all directions have world-famous 
names — Klondike, Bonanza, Eldorado, Lost Chance, Gold Bottom, 
Dominion, Sulphur, Little Blanche, Eureka, Indian. Rich deposits 
were found on these and many other creeks, but no claims ever 
equaled those along Bonanza and its tributary, Eldorado. One and 
one-half million dollars was taken from the four-acre claim. No. 16 
Eldorado, and $1,300,000 from the six and a half acres of No. 17 
Eldorado. It has often been thought that the source of all this gold 
must lie beneath Midnight Dome. Many prospectors have looked 
for it here, but the "mother lode" has never been found. 

Practically all the camps in the Klondike area can be reached 
from Dawson by automobile. The famous Bonanza Valley is a short 
walk from town. Extensive hydraulic mining is now done near the 
mouth of Bonanza, and dredging operations can be seen at Bear 
Creek, eight miles up the Klondike. The early miners worked with 
pick and shovel, thawing the ground with wood fires. Since then 
heavy mining machinery has been brought into the country and 
extensive water systems constructed. One such system carries its water 
sixty miles. The individual miner has practically disappeared. His 
creeks are being mined by companies with new methods and new 
machinery that make a profit from what he had to pass by. A few of 
the old men still remain, making a meager living, from time to time 
prospecting farther, still hoping for a Great Strike. 

Today the population is little more than a tenth of what it was in 
the boom days. The basic industry is mining, and the Dawson bank 
carries the sign Gold Dust Teller. Dawson is still the commercial and 
social center of the district. But peddlers who take their goods to the 
miners have reduced the amount of visible trade carried on in town. 


The public grade schools and high schools of Dawson maintain 
a bus service for children living within ten miles of town, and an 
Episcopal home boards children from beyond this district. There is 
a Carnegie library of more than 5,000 volumes, and a modernized 
hospital conducted by St, Mary's Roman Catholic Church. Dawson is 
the Yukon headquarters for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 
and the barracks of this famous force 'are open to visitors. 

During the summer Dawson is a town of rich lawns and bril- 
liantly colored flowers. Many short-season vegetables grow to remark- 
able size. A world record for potatoes was made here in 1923; a yield 
at the rate of 42 tons per acre, the average potato measuring 2 by 
1V2 feet and weighing 3'/4 pounds. The long summer day is followed 
by a cold dark winter with a record low temperature of 68° below 
zero. In the winter sky the northern constellations are extraordinarily 


The White Pass and Yukon Route operates steamers from Dawson to 
Nenana where connection is made with the Alaska Railroad. (See Part 
II, 5.) The Alaska Railroad operates steamers on the lower Yukon from 
Nenana to Marshall. Transfer from the upper river to the lower river 
steamer may be made at Tanana. 

Fort Reliance is seven miles below Dawson. This was once the 
chief post of the Alaska Commercial Company and the center from 
which distances were reckoned before the days of Dawson. It was 
established in 1874 by McQuesten, and in 1875 Harper and Mayo 
were put in charge. In 1882 twelve miners who had crossed Dyea 
Pass spent the winter here. One of them was Joe Ladue, who followed 
the example of McQuesten, Harper, and Mayo and financed his search 
for gold by becoming an agent of the Alaska Commercial Company. 
He was soon in charge of the post at Ogilvie. These four men, more 
than any others, are responsible for the development of the northwest. 
For twenty years they prospected the entire territory, accumulating 
the small evidences that brought more and more men to the head- 
waters of the Yukon until George Carmack's strike in 1886 brought 
the area to the attention of the whole world. 

Roughly between Dawson and Fortymile, but west of the inter- 
national boundary, are several ghost towns that were important cen- 
ters in gold rush days: Chicken (p.o., 20 pop.), Franklin (p.o., 19- 


pop.), Jack Wade (p.o., 4opop. est. 193S), Steel Creek (p.o.). Chicken 
was so named because gold was found here the size of cracked corn 
or chicken feed. There is a general store and roadhouse at Steel Creek. 

Fortymile (p.o., 5i7pop.), so called because it is forty miles below 
Fort Reliance, is on the west bank of the Yukon at the mouth of 
Fortymile River. It is a mining camp and the last settlement in 
Canadian territory before crossing the international boundary. A cus- 
toms office and a detachment of mounted police are stationed here. 
A dozen or more scattered log cabins, some red-roofed white houses, 
a few stores, a roadhouse and an Episcopal chapel comprise the settle- 
ment today. 

Harj^er found gold along the Fortymile in 1886 and established a 
trading post at the mouth of the river that year. In the early winter 
of 1887 George McCue and Dick Poplin found gold at Discovery 
Bar, nine miles above Moose Creek on the Fortymile. This precipitated 
a gold rush. During the summers immediately following, about five 
hundred men were working in the district, though not more than a 
hundred are thought to have remained through the winters. Forty- 
mile was soon a town of two hundred log cabins and several saloons 
which did a roaring business. There was also a variety show brought 
up from California. Some of the girls are said to have been excellent 
dancers. One of the greatest attractions of the show, for men who 
slept in unplastered cabins and on bar room floors, was the stage sets. 
They were the finest possible, with "Chippendale chairs and a richly 
carved buffet with pier glass complete." 

In 1895 the first detachment of mounted police was sent into the 
Yukon and established headquarters at Fortymile. The following 
year a mining recorder and gold commissioner were added to police 
authority. In '98 all authority was transferred from Fortymile to the 
booming town of Dawson. 

Six miles below the mouth of the Fortymile River was Cudahy, 
the chief post of the North American Trading and Transportation 
Company. This company was organized in 1892 and was the only 
American competitor to the powerful Alaska Commercial Company. 
Fifteen miles below the mouih of the Fortymile the Yukon crosses 
the international boundary and is in American territory. 

Eagle (p.o., 54pop.) is ten miles from the international boundary 
on the left bank of the Yukon. It is the first settlement in American 


Alaska to be reached on the Yukon, and the United States customs 
office is here. Eagle is the supply center for a large placer-mining area. 
It has a school, an Episcopal mission, and two general stores. Three 
miles below the town is an Indian village of one-room cabins. 

In 1881 Eagle was a solitary log house on the banks of the Yukon. 
But it was the southernmost point on the eastern course of this water- 
way within the United States, and was considered a strategic point 
in the early plans for opening up Alaska. There were many projects 
for a railroad or a highway connecting Eagle with the Gulf of Alaska, 
and a telegraph line from Valdez was actually laid. In 1899 Eagle 
was made a military post, and the deserted buildings of Fort Egbert 
may still be seen near the town. The United States District Court was 
first established here, then transferred to Fairbanks in 1904. The army 
post was abandoned in 191 1. Since then portions of the telegraph line 
have been used by the Alaska Road Commission for a telephone line. 

In December, 1905, newspapers in eastern United States carried a 
small news item dated Eagle City, Alaska, telling of a Captain 
Amundsen who had reached Eagle by dogsled from Herschel Island. 
"While the message is incomplete in details it purports to be from a 
member of an exploring party sent out by Nansen and states that 
the party is safe with the ship Gjoa wintering at King Point." In so 
uncomprehending a fashion was handled the greatest news story of 
the decade — that the northwest passage, sought by generations of 
explorers since the year 1576, had at last been navigated by Roald 
Amundsen, who had crossed 500 miles of unexplored country and a 
range of mountains 9,000 feet high in the season of short days, to give 
the news to the world. Amundsen remained at Fort Egbert several 
weeks before returning to his ship, but the full import of his feat 
was not recognized until late the following summer when he brought 
his vessel into Seattle (see Part II, 10). 

WooDCHOPPER is a mining camp at the mouth of Woodchopper 
Creek, 60 miles above Circle City. Mastodon bones were found here by 
early explorers and prospectors. Miners scattering out from Dawson 
made this a camp. Today it is little more than an outpost of the larger 
camp at Coal Creek (p.o.). 

Circle (p.o., 5opop.) is an Indian village and mining center fifty 
miles south of the Arctic Circle. Its founders supposed that it was on 
the Circle and named it accordingly. Circle is the terminus of the 


Stecse Highway from Fairbanks and passengers may leave the boat 
and go by bus to Fairbanks (see Part II, 6). At Circle there is a 
Federal school for Native children, an Episcopal church, a general 
store, and a roadhouse. 

In 1894 gold was found on Mastodon Creek by two men sent into 
the district by Harper. In a short time Circle was a camp second only 
to Fortymile. By 1898 it was a well-rooted town with a library, a 
hospital, and an Episcopal church. McQuesten was at Circle during 
these years, and it was here that he improvised a remarkable ther- 
mometer. Four bottles containing separately quicksilver, whiskey, 
kerosene, and Perry Davis' Painkiller were kept on a rack. Frozen 
kerosene meant one had better stay pretty close to the house. When 
the painkiller solidified it wasn't safe to step away from the fire. 

The great strike in the Klondike drew off most of Circle's popula- 
tion. But there was little food in Dawson during the winters of '97 
and '98, and many prospectors, old-timers and new-comers alike, 
came down the river during the dark months and were fed by 
McQuesten. The Fairbanks rush in 1902 took what miners had 
remained in Circle during the great boom and left the once populous 
camp a ghost town. 

Gold is still mined in the areas around Circle, and good trans- 
portation has made this a sportsman's country. Moose, bear, sheep, 
and caribou are plentiful. 

At Circle the Yukon widens out into many shallow channels, and 
this section of the river is known as Yukon Flats. Lieutenant 
Schwatka, mapping the Yukon in 1883, wrote of this, "The 29th of 
July was a hot, sweltering day, with the sun and its thousand reflec- 
tions sending their blistering heat into our faces. In fact, our greatest 
inconvenience near the shortArctic strip of the stream was the 
tropical heat. We drifted down the hot river, by low banks that needed 
nothing but a few breech-clouted Negroes to convince us that we 
were on the Congo." 

Fort Yukon (p.o., 304 pop., mostly Natives) is a fur-trading center 
one mile north of the Arctic Circle on Yukon Flats at the mouth of 
the Porcupine River. The Yukon here is a monotonous stretch of 
muddy channels, twenty miles wide, showing countless islands. Fort 
Yukon is the oldest English-speaking settlement in Alaska. For more 
than twenty years it was the chief trading post of the Hudson's Bay 


Company. Sir John Franklin, who discovered Peel River and named 
it in honor of his friend Sir John Peel, reported a great supply of 
fur-bearing animals in that region. In 1839 the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany sent out a party under John Bell, a son-in-law of Dease, to find 
a suitable post in the far west. Leaving Mackenzie delta in 1839, 
Bell went down the Porcupine and saw the Yukon in 1846. The 
following year a post was established there by A. H. Murray. It was 
known at the time that this was Russian territory, but a friendly 
trade agreement existed between the Hudson's Bay Company and the 
Russian America Company. Alaska was purchased by the United 
States in 1867, and in 1869 the English company was ordered to leave 
Fort Yukon. The post was first moved to Old Rampart House, but 
this too was found to be on American territory, and it was moved 
again twenty miles further up the Porcupine. In a short time the 
English company was replaced in Alaska by the powerful Alaska 
Commercial Company. 

Robert Campbell and his men, traveling between Fort Selkirk and 
Fort Yukon about 1850, found small quantities of gold. The Rev. 
Robert McDonald, stationed at Fort Yukon in 1862, also found gold 
in the course of his travels among the Indians. It was the Rev. Mc- 
Donald's reports that brought professional gold seekers into the 
country ten years later. The first men to come into the territory for 
gold arrived at Fort Yukon on July 15, 1873. In this party of eight 
were the famous trio, Harper, McQuesten, and Mayo, who soon 
established themselves as agents for the American fur company, built 
most of the settlements along the Yukon, and found most of the gold 
centers in the territory, except that at Dawson. 

In 1898 Fort Yukon was filled with disappointed men from the 
Klondike. Some of the more desperate fortune seekers organized a 
raid on the food supplies in town. Captain Ray and Lieutenant Rich- 
ardson of the signal corps were wintering there and, without soldiers 
to back them, took charge of the situation, commandeered all food in 
the name of the United States government, and rationed it to the 

Today Fort Yukon is a town of a few white residences and many 
Indian cabins, with schools for whites and Natives, a roadhouse, 
trading post and several stores selling fine furs and Indian work. 
There is airplane service between Fort Yukon and Fairbanks. This is 
the largest Indian village on the river and was once the headquarters 


of the Episcopal missions in the district. Like all Indians in the 
Yukon Valley, these people sufTer greatly from tuberculosis. The 
Hudson Stuck Memorial Hospital, built in 1915, has done much to 
improve their condition. 

The Episcopal church at Fort Yukon is a log building standing 
in the tall grass on the outskirts of town. The church has an altar 
cloth of moosehide, decorated with Indian beadwork. The cemetery 
has gravestones dating back to 1850, and Archdeacon Stuck is buried 

Hudson Stuck was born in London in 1863 and, although he lived 
most of his life in United States territory, never relinquished his 
British citizenship. He was Archdeacon of the Yukon from 1904 to 
his death in 1920. He was a great admirer of the Eskimos, and their 
champion against unscrupulous traders. In 1913 Stuck and three 
companions made the first ascent of Mt. McKinley, for which he 
received the Bach Grant of the Royal Geographical Society in 1919. 

A launch may be taken from Fort Yukon up the Porcupine River 
to Rampart House within the Arctic zone. Old Crow is a fur-trading 
center and Indian village on the right bank of the Porcupine at the 
mouth of Old Crow River. Those who enjoy physical hardship may 
continue across country and ascend the Mackenzie, following the 
Hudson's Bay Company's route, which was later known as "the back 
door route to the Klondike." 

Fort Yukon marks the northernmost point on the Yukon, which 
here begins a southwesterly course. At the end of June the midnight 
sun is plainly visible at this point. Each day it sets and rises farther to 
the north, until on June 21 it rolls the short distance between east 
and west on the edge of the horizon without ever dipping from sight. 

Beaver (p.o., 91 pop. est. 1938), 52 miles below Fort Yukon on the 
northern bank of the river, was settled following some gold discoveries 
on Chandalar River. Mining is still carried on at Caro (25pop.) on 
the Chandalar, and this camp is connected with Beaver by a series of 
shelter cabins. The Chandalar was named for John Chandlar of the 
Hudson's Bay Company. Chandalar (p.o., 35pop.) is 120 miles by trail 
from the Yukon. The district contains a dozen well-defined vein 
systems averaging from three to five feet in width, with a total of 
about 1,000 feet of development work on some half dozen of the 
more promising showings. The miners live in cabins and in stone 


huts which they call "iglus," and there is not a woman in the district. 
Winters in the valley of the Chandalar are severe, 65° below zero 
being not uncommon. Quartz miners in the mountains are favored, 
however, for the mercury seldom drops lower than 35° below zero 
at the high altitudes. 

Stevens (p.o., 48pop.) is a village near the mouth of Dall River, 
subsisting on mining, fur trapping and mink breeding. Rampart 
(p.o., i93pop.) is a trading post on the Yukon, about one degree 
south of the Arctic Circle. During the Klondike rush Rampart was an 
important supply center, with a population of 1,500. Rex Beach lived 
here, and his cabin has been preserved. This town and its people were 
the background for Beach's The Barrier. 

Tanana (p.o., i85pop. mostly Native), at the mouth of the Tanana 
River, about 200 miles northwest of Fairbanks, extends for about a 
half-mile along the right bank of the Yukon, here about 20 feet high. 
Three miles above the town is the St. James Episcopal Mission. The 
old village on the opposite side of the Yukon was a famous trading 
point of the Kuchin tribes. There are several stores, a hotel, and a 
Catholic mission. The town is in a placer-mining district, and some 
fishing and mink and fox breeding are carried on. It is the site of a 
former U.S. Army post, Fort Gibbons, some buildings of which remain. 

The Tanana is the largest tributary of the Yukon, over 600 miles 
in length and averaging 200 to 300 yards wide, with many side 
channels or sloughs, and is full of grayish brown silt. Occasionally the 
water undermines the banks and exposes the frozen strata of silt. 
Low-bush roses, high- and low-bush cranberries, raspberries, dew- 
berries, and blueberries grow along the banks. The first white men to 
visit its mouth were Russian traders in about i860, who called it 
"River of the Mountain Men." In the late 1870's the two traders Harper 
and Bates descended part of it. A scientific expedition led by Lieut. 
Henry T. Allen in 1885 passed over nearly its entire length, and in 
1898 A. H. Brooks made important contributions to the geography 
and geology of the area. There were never many Natives — Petrov 
estimated them in 1880 at 700 or 800, Allen in 1885 at 500 or 600, 
Brooks in 1898 at 400. The nation was divided into an eastern or 
highland group and a northwestern or lowland people. They were 
warlike toward other Indians, but less so toward whites, whose 
weapons intimidated them or whose whiskey mollified them. 


ToFTY (p.o., 225 pop. est. 1933) a mining camp some distance from 
the banks of the Tanana and 15 miles from Hot Springs, its shipping 
point, with which it is connected by telephone, is 120 miles from 
Fairbanks, which furnishes it with airplane service. Hot Springs 
(p.o., 45pop.), about 2 miles from the Tanana River, in a farming 
and mining district, is a resort frequently visited by citizens of Fair- 
banks (see Part II, 6). Tolovana (p.o.), in an important gold-mining 
district, is at the confluence of the Tolovana and Tanana rivers. 
MiNTo (p.o.) is a village of log houses facing the Tanana, with a 
general store and a mission. At Nexaxa (see Part II, 5) the country 
is flat on both sides of the river, apparently scarcely three or four feet 
above the water level. Below the town recent alluvial flats, lined in 
late summer and early fall with brilliant masses of fireweed, stretch 
some 60 miles southwestward and 20 miles northeastward. The shores 
are dotted with cabins and fishing camps, and a few tents in summer. 
Caches of fish rest on little wooden platforms placed on stilts; there 
are rows of dog houses, stacks of cordwood, canoes, and fishwheels 
that revolve lazily with the current and occasionally scoop out a fish 
and dump it into a box. Meat, often imported from Seattle, is kept 
cold in holes dug in the frozen ground. 


The Alaska Railroad operates freight and passenger steamers on the 
Yukon between Tanana and Marshall. Steamers of the Northern Commer- 
cial Company operate from Marshall to towns on the delta and St. Michael. 

The steamer passes Kallands (48 pop.) and continues to Kokrines 
(p.o., 74pop.), midway between the mouths of the Tanana and 
Koyukuk rivers, a trading post with a general store about 200 miles 
northeast of Iditarod. The town subsists on trading, fishing, mining, 
and trapping. Ruby (p.o., 132 pop.), about 120 miles west of Tanana, 
is the supply point for a large gold-mining area, with three general 
stores, a roadhouse, and other services. It is only a shell of its former 
self, and many buildings erected during gold-rush days are empty. 
A trail leads from Ruby to Long (2opop.) and Poormax (p.o., 6opop. 
est. 1938) mining camps with roadhouses. Cripple (24pop.) is a min- 
ing camp 40 miles south of Poorman. Eighteen miles down river from 
Ruby on the right bank is Meyer's, or The Dutchman's lone cabin. 
Five miles further is an Indian graveyard, and a little lower down 


some empty Indian huts. Now hills and the Kaiyuh Mountains are 
seen to the south, beyond the wide flats of the left bank. 

At Galena (67 pop.), a village on a flat promontory, there is a 
general store and a Federal school for Natives, On Bishop's Rock, 
a steep rocky promontory of stratified mud about 500 feet high, is a 
tall white cross marking the spot where Francis Fuller, a lay helper 
to Bishop John Charles Sehgers, murdered the latter in camp Novem- 
ber 27, 1886. "He aroused the bishop from a sound slumber, and after 
a few insane ejaculations, shot him dead." Koyukuk (p.o., 143 pop.) is 
a pleasant row of houses (white and Native) 225 miles east of Nome, 
a small trading post and the site of a Native school. Here begin 
wooded hills, 400 to 800 feet high, along the right bank, with V-shaped 
valleys between, consisting of stratified mud rocks. A few old Indian 
camps and graveyards occur along the shores. 

NuLATO (p.o., 204 pop.) is about 200 miles north of Iditarod and 
220 miles east of Nome by airline, and some 550 miles from Bering 
Sea by the river. It has general stores, a roadhouse, and a Catholic 
mission. Along its waterfront on a high bank is a large Indian burial 
ground, with brightly painted wooden burial boxes flying flags. Here 
in 1838 Malakof built a blockhouse and stockade which was burned 
by Indians during his absence the following winter. Rebuilt in 1842 
by Lieutenant Zagoskin of the Russian navy, it existed for ten years. 
His successor, Vasili Derzhavin, committed many acts of cruelty on 
the Natives, and in 1851 the Koyukuk Indians massacred the entire 
garrison. Also called "Stop-a-bit" by the Natives, Nulato has always 
been the great Native trading center for the area. Mining, fishing, and 
fur trapping and breeding are carried on. 

Kaltag (p.o., i37pop.) is a Native village on the right bank of 
the river, once important as the river terminus of the trail between 
St. Michael and the Yukon Valley. On the opposite bank is an aban- 
doned Native village. The name indicates Eskimo influence, and here 
the Natives show predominately Eskimo features. Anvik (p.o., 79 
pop.), on a pretty cove, is the site of an Episcopal mission founded in 
1887 and of a Native school maintained by the mission. In 1938 it 
had a population of about 100. Here the Yukon Natives first were 
seen by white men when in 1834 Glazunof discovered the town, then 
numbering several hundred persons. They belonged to the Inkalik 
tribe — the name supposed to mean "lousy" from the fact that they 


never cut their hair, with the inevitable result. Formerly black pot- 
tery was made here, of rather poor quality, in which feathers were 
mixed to strengthen the vessels. Alihcjugh this settlement is perhaps 
several hundred years old, there is no trace here or elsewhere along the 
Yukon of really old settlements dating 500 or more years back, per- 
haps because Native villages were seldom stable, and large centers 
were moved every few generations. 

At the old village of Bonasila are old pit and tunnel dwellings. 
Here many stone tools were made, some betraying Russian influence, 
but many that were pre-Russian. Ghost Creek is a trading post, so 
named because of the many Native burials here. The dead were 
buried in boxes of hewn wood, the body covered with birch bark 
and placed in a flexed position, head to the east. The planks of the 
boxes were painted with figures of animals and men. Holy Cross 
(p.o., 295 pop. est. 1938) is a Jesuit mission and school at the mouth 
of the Innoko about 400 miles from Fairbanks. The mission was 
established in 1887, and is operated by the Jesuit Fathers and the 
Sisters of St. Ann, There is a boarding school for Natives, a board- 
ing house for visitors, general store, and a farm with cows and 
horses where sixty tons of potatoes and seven tons of vegetables are 
raised annually. Native children in the mission school publish a quar- 
terly. Holy Cross Echoes. It was here that Father Jules Jette (not of 
the mission) made his renowned studies of the dialects of the Yukon 
Indians. At Shageluk (p.o., 88 pop.) on the Innoko above Holy Cross 
is a Federal school for Natives. Paimute, 25 miles below Holy Cross, 
is the first all-Eskimo village to be reached downstream on the 
Yukon. Dogfish Village, on the Yukon, is almost deserted, as most 
of its inhabitants died in an influenza epidemic in 1900. A few miles 
north of the river bank is Stuyaiiok (p.o.). At Russian Mission (p.o., 
54pop.) there are two general stores and a mink farm. This is a 
portage point to the Kuskokwim River, at one time frequently used in 
reaching the Iditarod district from Nome in summer. Here was once 
the mother mission of all Russian churches, but the large and beautiful 
building is now falling to pieces. 

Marshall or Fortuna Ledge (p.o., 1 11 pop.) is the farthest point 
south on the Yukon. Gold was discovered here in September, 1913, 
and six hundred prospectors were encamped before the end of October. 
In 1916 its citizens named the town Marshall in honor of the vice- 


president, but the Post Office Department lists it as Fortuna Ledge. 
There are two general stores, a hotel, and a Territorial school. Roman 
Catholic and Swedish Lutheran services are held regularly by travel- 
ing missionaries. At Marshall, Alaska Railroad steamers connect with 
a Northern Commercial Company steamer taking passengers to St. 
Michael (see Part II, 9). At Pilot Station is a Native school. Above 
and beyond the river the hills already belong to the coast range, and 
are treeless. The beginning of the delta region is now reached. At 
Andreafsky (36pop.) the firs and spruce disappear, the forests of birch 
are reduced to brush on the flats and on the lower slopes of the hills, 
the upper slopes of which are greenish with lichens. Old Andreafsky, 
about 150 miles south of St. Michael, was a salmon-fishing and pack- 
ing village. The name is said to be derived from the Andrea family 
which early settled here and built the Russian church. Formerly, this 
was an important trading center on the lower Yukon, with ware- 
houses, stores and dwellings, machine shops, a marine railway, and a 
large hotel. A stockaded post was established on the right bank by the 
Russians about 1853. In August, 1855, the Natives killed the two in- 
mates of the stockade. At Mountain Village (p.o., 76 pop.) the 
Bureau of Indian Affairs maintains a hospital and school. There is a 
Roman Catholic mission here. Hamilton (p.o.), a steamboat landing 
on the right bank of the river near the delta, has a general store, 
a school, and a dozen houses. Akulurak (p.o., 165 pop. est. 1938) is 
an Eskimo village which has grown up around St. Mary's mission. 
The mission was established to care for orphans of the 1918 influ- 
enza epidemic. It stands on the highest ground in from the Bering 
Sea and is about 60 miles from the upper and 35 miles from the lower 
fork of the Yukon. About one hundred children are cared for by the 
Jesuit Fathers and the Ursuline Nuns. 

KoTLiK, on an island in the delta of the Yukon, is an Eskimo 
village at the mouth of the Kotlik River. It was once an important 
fur-trading station. The name is derived from the Eskimo word 
\wii'tle\, pants, for here a small stream parts like the legs of a pair 
of trousers. This is tundra country, its treeless and bushless flats 
overgrown with a thick cushion of moss. Kwiguk (p.o.) is also on the 
Yukon delta, east of Kotlik. Pastolik, important in Russian days, is 
now practically a ghost town, with a graveyard and empty Native 
houses. North of the Yukon delta, on Norton Sound, is St. Michael 
(see Part II, 9). 


Glacier Bay National Monument — Yakutat — Malaspina and Bering 
Glaciers — Controller Bay — Cordova — Childs and Miles Glaciers. 


Leaving Juneau, the steamer passes the mouth of Glacier Bay and 
enters the Gulf of Alaska through Cross Sound. Gustavus (p.o.) is 
the center of a small farming district on Icy Strait. There is a public 
school and a general store. 

Glacier Bay enters Icy Strait between Point Gustavus and Point 
Adolphus. It extends north and northwest from its entrance for about 
60 miles to the boundary between Alaska and British Columbia, and 
lies within Glacier Bay National Monument and Tongass National 

To enter Glacier Bay is to step a few thousand years backward 
into America's ice age. The bay contains at least eleven tidal glaciers, 
and one alone — Muir Glacier — has a drainage area of over 800 square 
miles and over 350 square miles of glacier surface, with two main 
tributaries, 20 to 22 miles long. 



Glacier Bay was given its name by Commander Beardsley in 1880. 
It was first visited by Vancouver in 1794, and later by Russian ex- 
plorers. Lieutenant Wood surveyed it in 1877, and John Muir explored 
it in 1879 and 1880. In 1879, Muir journeyed there with some Stikine 
Indians for guides. The stormy season was approaching, and the 
Indians were afraid to enter this "skookum-house of ice from which 
there might be no escape." Muir described the bay as "a solitude of ice 
and snow and newborn rocks, dun, dreary, and mysterious." The first 
glacier encountered was named after James Geike, Scotch geologist. 
Another was named for Hugh Miller; a third, the largest of all, 
was called the Pacific. From his observations Muir deduced that when 
it was first formed "the entire bay was occupied by a single glacier 
of which all these, great as they are, were only tributaries." The bay 
has been studied and mapped, each time in greater detail, many times 
since. Most of the glaciers are rapidly retreating, and the number of 
separate ice fronts is increasing. 

In September, 1899, an earthquake occurred which was appar- 
ently central in Disenchantment Bay, at the upper end of Yakutat Bay, 
and which upheaved the rocks in that vicinity, by actual measure- 
ment, some thirty or forty feet. This great disturbance of the earth's 
crust profoundly affected the glaciers in Glacier Bay. Previous to that 
time excursion steamers had regularly run up into the bay, and had 
experienced little or no difficulty in approaching within a few hun- 
dred yards, or as close as was deemed safe, to the face of the Muir 
Glacier, which at that time presented a perpendicular front at least 
200 feet in height, from which huge bergs were detached at frequent 
intervals. The earthquake changed all that. The glaciers seem to have 
been completely shattered by the shock. Vast masses of ice were 
discharged which so choked the bay that it was impossible for steamers 
to enter. The breaking up of the ice masses seems to have been so 
thorough that great quantities have continued to be discharged every 
year since then. 

Glacier Bay National Monument was created February 26, 1925, 
and has an area of approximately 1,820 square miles. The boundaries 
of the monument include a part of the coastline of North Marble 
Island, Bear Track Cove, Bartlett Cove, Excursion Inlet, Glacier Bay, 
and Lynn Canal, and extend to the international boundary line be- 
tween Alaska and British Columbia, including the summits of Mt. 
Fairweather, Mt. Lituya, Mt. La Perouse, and several other mountain 


tops. Creation of the monument was at the petition of the Ecological 
Society of America and the indorsement of the National Geographic 
Society, pointing out that the Glacier Bay district presents a unique 
opportunity for the scientific study of glacial action, of resulting move- 
ments and development of flora and fauna, and certain valuable relics 
of ancient interglacial forests. In 1939 the area could be reached only 
by chartered launch or plane from Juneau. In view of the great beauty 
and interest of the area, it is logical to expect that facilities for regular 
tourist trips to the monument will soon be made. But for anything 
more than a glimpse from plane or boat most people will be content 
to learn about these vast glaciers from the experience of others. 

During a trip in 1880, after making notes on the movement of the 
glaciers in the region, Muir decided to take a sled trip to the huge 
Muir Glacier and its seven tributaries, where, incidentally, he got rid 
of a severe bronchial cough of three months' standing. Muir stood the 
trip well, but, as he remarked, "No microbe could." His only com- 
panion was his dog, Stickeen. "I had frequendy to cross bridges that 
were only knife edges for twenty or thirty feet," wrote Muir, "cutting 
of? the sharp tops and leaving them flat so that little Stickeen could 
follow me. These I had to straddle, cutting ofi the top as I progressed 
and hitching gradually ahead like a boy riding a rail fence. All day 
the little Stickeen followed me bravely, never hesitating on the brink 
of any crevasse that I had jumped, but now that it was becoming dark 
and the crevasses became more troublesome, he followed close at my 
heels instead of scampering far and wide, where the ice was at all 
smooth, as he had in the forenoon. No land was now in sight. The 
mist fell lower and darker, and the snow began to fly. I could not see 
far enough up and down the glacier to judge how best to work out 
of the bewildering labyrinth, and how hard I tried while there was 
yet hope of reaching camp that night! a hope which was fast growing 
dim with the sky. After dark, on such ground, to keep from freez- 
ing, I could only jump up and down until morning on a piece of flat 
ice between the crevasses, dance to the boding music of the winds 
and waters, and as I was already tired and hungry, I would be in a 
bad condition for such ice work. Our very hardest trial was in getting 
over the very last of the sliver bridges. After examining the first 
of the two crevasses, I followed its edge half a mile or so up and 
down, and discovered that its narrowest spot was about eight feet 
wide, which was the limit of what I was able to jump. Moreover, the 


side I was on — that is, the west side — was about a foot higher than 
the other, and I feared that in case I should be stopped by a still wider 
impassable crevasse ahead that I could hardly be able to take back 
that jump from its lower side. The ice beyond, however, as far as I 
could see it, looked temptingly smooth. Therefore, after carefully mak- 
ing a pocket for my foot on the rounded brink, I jumped, but found 
that I had nothing to spare and more than dreaded having to retrace 
my way. Little Stickeen jumped this, however, without apparently 
taking a second look at it, and we ran ahead joyfully over smooth, 
level ice, hoping we were now leaving all danger behind us. But 
hardly had we gone a hundred or two yards when to our dismay we 
found ourselves on the very widest of all the longitudinal crevasses 
we had yet encountered. It was about forty feet wide. I ran up the side 
of it to northward, eagerly hoping that I could get around its head, 
but my worst fears were realized when at a distance of about a mile 
or less it ran into the crevasse I had just jumped. I then ran down 
the edge for a mile or more below the point where I had first met it, 
and found that its lower end also united with the crevasse I had 
jumped, showing that we were on an island two or three hundred 
yards wide and about two miles long and the only way of escape from 
this island was by turning back and jumping again that crevasse, 
which I dreaded, or venturing ahead across the giant crevasse by the 
very worst of the sliver bridges I had ever seen. It was so badly 
weathered and melted down that it formed a knife edge, and extended 
across from side to side in a low drooping curve like that made by a 
loose rope attached at each end at the same height. But the worst 
difficulty was that the ends of the down-curving sliver were attached 
to the sides at a depth of about eight or ten feet below the surface 
of the glacier. Getting down to the end of the bridge, and then after 
crossing it getting up the other side, seemed hardly possible. However, 
I decided to dare the dangers of the fearful sliver rather than to at- 
tempt to retrace my steps. Accordingly I dug a low groove in the 
rounded edge for my knees to rest in and, leaning over, began to cut 
a narrow foothold in the steep smooth side. 

"When I was doing this, Stickeen came up behind me, pushed 
his head over my shoulder, looked into the crevasses and along the 
narrow knife edge, then turned and looked in my face muttering 
and whining as if trying to say, 'Surely you are not going down there.' 
I said, 'Yes, Stickeen, this is the only way.' He then began to cry and 


run wildly along the rim of the crevasse, searching for a better way, 
then returning, baffled, of course, he came behind me and lay down 
and cried louder and louder. 

"After getting down one step I cautiously stooped and cut another 
and another in succession until I reached the point where the sliver 
was attached to the wall. There, cautiously balancing, I chipped down 
the upcurved end of the bridge until I had formed a small level plat- 
form about a foot wide, then, bending forward, got astride of the 
end of the sliver, steadied myself with my knees, and cut ofiF the top 
of the sliver, hitching myself forward an inch or two at a time, leav- 
ing it about four inches wide for Stickeen. Arrived at the farther end 
of the sliver, which was about seventy-five feet long, I chipped another 
little platform on its upcurved end, cautiously rose to my feet, and 
with infinite pains cut narrow notch steps and finger holds in the wall 
and finally got safely across. All this dreadful time poor little Stickeen 
was crying as if his heart was broken, and when I called to him in as 
reassuring a voice as I could muster, he only cried the louder, as if 
trying to say that he never, never could get down there — the only 
time that the brave little fellow appeared to know what danger was. 
After going away as if I was leaving him, he still howled and 
cried without venturing to try to follow me. Returning to the edge 
of the crevasse, I told him that I must go, that he could come if he 
only tried, and finally in despair he hushed his cries, slid his little 
feet slowly down into my footsteps out on the sliver, walked slowly 
and cautiously along the sliver as if holding his breath, while the 
snow was falling and the wind was moaning and threatening to blow 
him off. When he arrived at the foot of the slope below me, I was 
kneeling on the brink ready to assist him in case he should be unable 
to reach the top. He looked up along the row of notched steps I 
had made, as if fixing them in his mind, then with a nervous spring 
he whizzed up and passed me out on to the level ice, and ran and 
cried and barked and rolled about fairly hysterical in the sudden 
revulsion from the depths of despair to triumphant joy. I tried to catch 
him and pet him and tell him how good and brave he was, but he 
■would not be caught. He ran round and round, swirling like autumn 
leaves in an eddy, lay down and rolled head over heels." 

At LiTUYA Bay, about a hundred miles west of Juneau, is a 
rugged headland with one of the highest ranges of coastal mountains 


on earth. The bay itself is a narrow, T-shaped channel six miles 
long. At the head of the bay are ice-covered peaks between 10,000 
and 12,000 feet high, and Mt. Fairweather, so named by Captain Cook 
for the atmosphere at the time of his visit, rises to over 15,000 feet. 
Blue-white glaciers lie in every valley, and below the ice fields are 
dark evergreens. On his third voyage around the world Captain 
Cook saw these mountains in 1778. 

The French explorer Jean Francois de Galoup, Comte de La 
Perouse, after participating in brilliant sea battles on the side of the 
United States in the Revolution, was given by Louis XVI command 
of an expedition of discovery. In 1786, on a search for the northwest 
passage, he entered Lituya Bay in the month of June. The shores 
were covered with wild strawberry blossoms and at slack tide the 
bright green water was as still as glass. He thought the bay resembled 
Toulon and named it Port des Francais. For years it was known to 
Yankee whalemen as Frenchmen's Bay. The expedition remained for 
six weeks, making a survey of the bay, which is still in use. Two 
boats taking soundings capsized and twenty-one men were drowned. 
The commander put up a wooden cross on the prominent little island 
in the middle of the bay and named this Cenotaph. "There remained 
for us," remarked La Perouse, "nothing more but to quit as speedily 
as possible a shore which had proved so fatal." 

Thirty or forty years before La Perouse entered Lituya Bay, a 
reservoir of water, dammed up somewhere among the glaciers sur- 
rounding Mt. Crillon, broke through the confining ice and swept 
down through the bay to the sea. Meeting the ocean swells it was 
turned back, surging and resurging through the bay many times. The 
wave crests of this old inundation are clearly marked high on the 
hillsides by the young timber growth contrasting with the virgin 
forest above. There was a similar flood in 1936, the recent wave crests 
matching closely in location with the earlier ones. Below the flood- 
crest line the hillsides were swept clean down to bedrock, and the 
beaches on the south side of the bay littered with large trees and 

The international boundary commission mapped the coast range 
thoroughly in 1907, but not until 1926 was an attempt made to ex- 
plore the heart of the range, when an expedition, consisting of Allen 
Carpe, Dr. William S. Todd, and Andrew S. Taylor, after reaching 
a height of 9,000 feet, was forced to return after the first recorded 


attempt to climb Mr. Fairweather (i5,30oalt.). In 1931 Carpe and 
Tcrris Moore scaled the peak. Mr. Crillon (i2,725alt.), named by 
La Perouse for the French minister of marine, was next attempted 
by the Harvard-Dartmouth expeditions of 1933-4, with aid furnished 
by the Geological Society of America. A scientifically streamlined ex- 
pctlition, which included the taking of aerial photographs by plane, 
the use of two portable radio telephones, the dropping of food by 
plane at predetermined spots, and careful mapping of the exact route 
in advance, made a successful assault on the peak in 1934. 

The country between Lituya Bay and Yakutat is rarely visited ex- 
cept by trappers. Comet is a small settlement near Dry Bay. In the 
summer of 1918, Hardy Trefzger and Fred Zastrow, trappers of Dry 
Bay, came on a cabin and found the dead body of a man and a 
diary he had kept during the last six months of his life. Alone and 
sick, he had lived for that time on what he had been able to kill — 
eight goats, five lynxes, two bears, and a wolf. The diary is so eloquent 
of the indomitable spirit of lonely Alaskans that it is here given in full: 

Oct- 4th, 19 17. Getting sick packing, now looking for camping 
place. Cold in the lungs with a high fever. 
6th. Less fever, less pain, but getting weak. 
7th. Feeling better but very weak. 
9th. Getting a little stronger, 
loth. Going to build a house. Will not be able to pull canoe 

up this fall, got to wait for the ice. 
13th. Shot a glacier bear. 
14th. Shot a goat. 
17th. House finished. 
1 8th. Taking out some traps. 
20th. Made a smoke house. 
2 1 St. Shot one goat. 
25th. Shot one lynx. 
27th. Shot a wolf and a bear cub. 

28th. Winter has come. Strong wind, two feet of snow. 
Nov. 4th. Shot one lynx. 

6th. Made one pair of bearskin pants. 
8th. Sugar is all gone. 
13th. Made two pair of moccasins. 
1 8th. Finished one fur coat of bear, wolf, and lynx. 
2ist. Finished one sleeping bag of l^\ir, goat, blankets, and 
canvas. Rain for several davs. 


Nov. 22nd. Left eye bothers me. Shot one goat. 

26th. Shot one lynx while eating breakfast. 

27th. Made one pair of bearpaw snowshoes. 
Dec. ist. Getting bad. Cold for several days, river still open. 
4th. River raised six feet in 24 hours. 
6th. Slush stiffening, slowly making ice. 
7th. The wind is so strong that you can't stand upright. 

River froze except a few riffles. Too much snow and 
too rough for sleighing. Snow getting deeper now. 

15th. Very cold and strong wind, impossible to be out with- 
out skin clothes. 

19th. Snowing but still very cold. Riffles up in the bend still 
open. Can't travel. Don't believe there will be ice a 
man can run a sleigh over this winter. Very little grub, 
snow too deep and soft for hunting goats. Stomach 
balking at straight meat, especially lynx. 

2 1 St. Shot a goat from the river. 

25th. \^ery cold. A good Christmas dinner. Snow getting 
hard. River still open in places above camp. 

26th. Broke through the ice. Skin clothes saved the day. 

31st. Finished new roof on the house. One month of cold 
weather straight. Last night and today rain. Stomach 
getting worse. 
Jan. 8th. 191 8. River open as far as can be seen. Health very 

i2th. Lynx moving down the river one or two a night; no 
chance to catch them. 

15th. Goats moving out of reach. Using canoe on the river. 

i6th. One lynx. Weather getting mild. 

20th. Rain today. 

22nd. One lynx. 

28th. One goat, been cold for a few days, no ice on river. 
Feb. I St. Cold weather nearly all month of January. Lynx robbed 
my meat cache up river. Salt and tea but once a day. 
Gradually getting weaker. 
5th. Colder weather, feeling very bad. Just able to take care 
of myself. 

loth. Milder, feeling very bad. Heavy fall of snow. 

15th. Good weather continues, feeling some better. 

24th. More snow. Living on dry meat and tallow. 

26th. Shot one goat from the river. 


Mch. 2ncl. Shot one goat. 

nth. Starting lor Dry Bay, believing the river open. Out 
about one hour and struck ice. Can't go either way. 
Too weak to haul the canoe. Snow soft, no game here. 

25th. Trying to get to the house. River is frozen in places, 
and rising. The sleigh is now only three miles from 
there, but open river and perpendicular cliffs keep me 
from getting any farther. At present cannot find any- 
thing to eat here. Eyes are getting bad. 

28th. Eyes can't stand the sun at all. Finest kind of weather. 

Apr. I St. Got to the house with what I could carry. Wolverenes 

have been here eating my skins, robes, and moccasins, 

old meat, and also my goatskin door. They tried to 

run me last night, came through the stovepipe hole 

showing fight. Heavy fall of snow. Canoe and some 

traps down the river about five miles, close to Indian 

grave mark. Camp about halfway. 

3rd. Still snowing. Cooking my last grub, no salt, no tea. 

4th. Shot one goat, using all but three of my shells. Can't 

see the sights at all. 
7th. Wolverene working on camp below carrying away my 
things. Ate part of my bearskin pants. Packed the old 
.30-.30 out into the brush. Eyes getting worse again, 
don't even stand the snow. 

loth. Wolverenes at my bedding and one snowshoe. In the 
tent, getting shaky in the legs. A five-mile walk a big 
day's work. 

I2th. Seen a fox track today. Birds are coming too. Fine 

15th. The no-salt diet is hitting me pretty hard. Eyes are get- 
ting worse, in the bunk most of the time. 

17th. Rain yesterday and today. 

20th. Finest weather continues again, cooking the last grub, 
got to stay in bunk most of the time — my legs won't 
carry me very far. My eyes are useless for hunting, the 
rest of my body also useless. I believe my time has 
come. My belongings, everything I got I give to Joseph 
Pellerine of Dry Bay; if not alive, to Paul Swartzkoph, 
Alsek River. April 22, 191 8. V. Swanson. 

Yakutat (p.o., 299pop. est. 1938) is a fishing village and cannery 
on Yakutat Bay about 216 miles northwest of Juneau, its population 


largely Native. Seaplanes may land in the bay. The town is con- 
nected by railway with Situk and Lost River fishing camps. It has 
no hotel, but two restaurants. There is a Swedish Lutheran church, 
Salvation Army post, and government school for Natives. Game fish- 
ing is good at Situk and Lost River; and ducks, gccse, and hens 
are abundant. On Kontonk Island is a fox farm. 

Yakutat Bay is an indentation in an otherwise unbroken coastline 
between Cross Sound and Controller Bay, 40 miles southeast of Mt. 
St. Elias, and near the point where the boundary line between Canada 
and Alaska turns northward. The distance from its mouth to its 
head is about 75 miles, and it contains an inner bay, a true fiord, 
with mountains 2000 to 3000 ft. that rise abruptly from the sea. It 
was visited by La Perouse, Pordock, and Spanish explorers in the 
eighteenth century, each of whom gave it a different name. In 1791 
Malaspina named this water Puerto del Desengaiio when it proved 
not to be the northwest passage he was seeking. "Desengano" was 
translated into English as "Disenchantment." Bering is supposed to 
have visited this spot. In 1795 the Russians established a penal colony 
near Ankau Creek, on the southeast shore of the bay, called Glory 
of Russia after Admiral Billings' vessel. It was fortified with a block- 
house and stockade, but suffered perpetual attacks from the Natives 
until it was finally exterminated by them in 1803-4. A few cellar 
holes still mark the site. The bay has been visited by more geograph- 
ical expeditions than any other point on the Alaska coast, because 
of its unusual interest to students of glacial action. Professor I. C. 
Russell's expedition of 1890 investigated its glaciers, and many other 
expeditions, including the famous one headed by Lawrence Martin, 
have explored and mapped the region. In 1898-9 many prospectors 
crossed over its glaciers in search of a route to the Yukon gold fields. 
Not very many years ago — some 10,000 perhaps — the entire bay was 
covered by one vast glacier. In 1899 occurred here an earthquake 
that profoundly changed the faces of many glaciers in southeastern 

Malaspina Glacier was not recognized as a glacier until 1880. 
It was named Malaspina Plateau by Dall in 1874. In 1794, Vancouver 
described the region as having "a high abrupt cliffy point forming 
the west point of a bay, bounded by a solid body of ice or frozen 
snow," and drew on his map a body of water. Icy Bay. Today that 

222 THE LAST I" R O N T I E R 

name is given to a small body of water between Malaspina and Guyat 
glaciers. Cape Yakataga is a post office in the modern Icy Bay. Ac- 
cording to Native tradition, a large bay once existed here, with a 
Native village on its bank. One day an Indian came rushing home 
crying, "Quick! Quick! The ice is coming!" Ice filled the bay and 
engulfed the village, and in the hundred years that passed after this 
the glacier accumulated a covering of moraine, forest, and snow, 
so that it was not recognized as such until Dall explored it. Malaspina 
has part of its top above the snow line (2,500 ft.), but the bulk of it 
reaches only 1,500 ft. It is a perfect example of a type of glacier 
that was very common during the ice age in the Rocky Mountains, 
Norway, and Great Britain, but has become very rare — the piedmont 
glacier. Such glaciers pass out beyond their mountain valleys onto 
level land and become expanded bulbs. 

Mt. St. Elias (18,008 alt.), the first portion of the Alaska mainland 
sighted by Bering on St. Elias' day, July 16, 1741, is situated on the 
international boundary. It was first scaled by the Duke of the Abruzzi 
in 1897. Prince Luigi, Duke of the Abruzzi, an Italian nobleman, was 
born in Madrid in 1873. He led two expeditions to the North Pole, 
explored the sources of the Webo Shebeli River in Abyssinia, and 
climbed many perilous mountains in Africa and India. His account 
of the ascent of Mt. St. Elias was published in 1900, and the proceeds 
of the book were given to establish an insurance fund for Italian 

About 100 miles west of Mt. St. Elias is Bering Glacier, named 
by the Coast Survey in 1880. In the summer of 1938 the Harvard 
University-National Geographic Society Flight Expedition discovered 
that Bering Glacier is connected with Hubbard and Malaspina glaciers 
by an enormous unnamed glacier, concealed behind the coastal range, 
from 5,000 to 7,000 feet high and over 100 miles long. The expedition 
made a complete photographic record of the glacier. The final flight 
of the expedition, planned and prepared for months in advance under 
the leadership of twenty-seven-year-old Bradford Washburn, proved 
that the combined glacier system of the Mt. St. Elias Range is a 
mammoth expanse of unbroken ice several thousand feet deep, stretch- 
ing almost from Cape St. Elias southward and eastward for 235 
miles to the Alsek River Valley, and is without question the largest 
glacier system in the world outside the Polar ice caps. 


Near the north edge of Bering Glacier is Mt. Steller (10,000 alt.) 
named after Georg Wilhelm Steller, naturalist with Bering on his 
second voyage (1741). Georg Steller was born at Windsheim (Ger- 
many) in 1709. At twenty-three he was a brilliant theologian, natural- 
ist, and physician. At that time the Russian court was the greatest 
patron of learning in Europe. Steller arrived at St. Petersburg in 
1734, where he met Vitus Bering. Steller accompanied Bering on his 
second expedition of discovery and died on the return trip at Tyumen, 
Siberia, in 1741. He was the first naturalist to travel the Pacific Coast 
north of Japan and California. His work, De bestiis marinis, contains 
thorough descriptions of the hitherto unknown fur seal, sea lion, sea 
otter, and sea cow. For one hundred and fifty years this volume con- 
tained the only authoritative information on these valuable fur animals. 

Bering anchored off Kayak Island in July, 1741, and it was here 
that he looked toward the country he had discovered and "shrugged 
his shoulders in the presence of all on board." The island was named 
for its resemblance to an Eskimo skin boat. 

On Controller Bay is Katalla (p.o., 44 pop.), a village on Katalla 
River about 75 miles southeast of Cordova, its Indian name meaning 
"bay." It is the center of the Katalla petroleum fields. Few signs re- 
main of the 5,000 "oil maggots" who once swarmed into this region, 
freighting their supplies from Kayak Island, the nearest port. In 1908 
the Federal government withdrew these oil lands from private hands. 
Some trapping is done in the vicinity. 

On the beach at Katalla lay for some years the bones of the 
famous steamer Portland which, arriving in Seattle with "a ton of 
gold," started the Alaska gold rush of 1898. Christened Haytian Re- 
public in 1885, the vessel was seized for carrying ammunition to 
rebels in Haiti during the Hippolyte rebellion, and an attempt was 
made to sink her as she left Port au Prince. She turned up on the 
Pacific Coast in 1889 as a cannery boat and passenger steamer. Found 
smuggling Chinese and opium, she was seized and sold by the gov- 
ernment. Remodeled and given the name of Portland, she steamed 
into Seattle with a cargo of gold in 1897. In 1910, she was wrecked 
on the Katalla beach and torn to pieces, appropriately enough, for 
the brass that was in her. 

About 160 miles ofT the coast, almost due south of Cordova, is 
MiDDLETON Island, named after Henry Middleton, American minister 


to Russia 1820-30, who negotiated a treaty with Russia in 1824 that 
regulated trade and fisheries on the Pacific Ocean and northwest 
coast and estabHshed the Hne of 54° 40' as the southern limit of 
Russian expansion. The Indian name of the island, Achakoo or 
Atchaka, means "without a harbor," as there is no safe anchorage 
along its coast for boats of any kind. The island is off the course 
of ships, and for months at a time no smoke or sail is seen. Since 
1890 Middleton has been leased by the government to various pri- 
vate concerns as a breeding farm for blue foxes, and several voluntary 
Crusoes have lived there. One such, a Bostonian who emigrated to 
the Yukon during the gold rush, lived for some time with his wife 
on the island. Once a year he brought from Cordova a year's file 
of the Boston Transcript, and each morning after breakfast he and 
his wife eagerly read the paper — exactly one year after publica- 

HiNXHiNBROoK IsLAND is on the east side of the entrance to Prince 
William Sound. Nuchek, a native village on the island, was dis- 
covered by Cook between 1776 and 1779. The Russians built a fort 
here in 1793 and fitted out two expeditions to explore the Copper 
River Valley, both of which failed. Baranof established Redoubt St. 
Constantine at Nuchek, which grew to a large town of 3,000 popula- 
tion, with a fortress, trading stores, a Greek Orthodox church, and 
a harbor from which put forth great fleets of bidarkas. Serebevinkof, 
a half-breed and a graduate of a school of commercial navigation in 
St. Petersburg, used Nuchek as his starting point for an expedition 
up the Copper River Valley in 1847. He was probably murdered by 
the Chitina Indians, as his notebook later turned up in the hands of 
coast Indians. 

The Chugachimutes were apparently an intrusion of an Eskimo 
tribe, surrounded by hostile Indians, and they gave characteristically 
Eskimauan names, some of which still persist, to rivers and bays of 
the vicinity. They were not numerous — never more than about 500, 
according to contemporary observers, from around 1818 to Petrofs 
census of 1880. They used stone tools — copper tools were rare among 
them, and obtained only by trade. They traveled long distances in 
skin canoes — bidarkas — with inflated seal or bear bladders as life 
preservers, lighted their houses with stone lamps, made dishes of 
bark or wood fiber, and used the cambium of the hemlock as a con- 


diment in cooking. The Chugach have become completely merged 
with neighboring Indian groups. 

A Chugach love potion vi^as made of "Alaska cotton," thoroughly 
dried and powdered. Mix the powdered herb with seal oil to the 
consistency of a paste, place the paste inside your lip, approach the girl 
of your choice, and allow your breath to drift across her nostrils. 
If this fails to arouse her to immediate love, a more direct remedy 
is recommended. Dry and powder a jellyfish and sprinkle it at strategic 
points inside her sleeping blanket — the medicine is guaranteed to sting 
her to instant passion. Such compounds were forbidden to unmarried 
couples. If a Chugach couple decided to marry, they were put on 
probation for one moon. While sleeping each night together on a 
great bearskin, they were required to abstain from the use of seal oil 
and from love, and to bathe each morning in the ocean. At the end 
of the month, the shaman would examine the bearskin. If its condi- 
tion showed that the pair had been chaste, a podatch was held and 
the marriage consummated. 

Approaching Cordova from the sea, the mouth of the Copper 
River Valley looks like a single vast mountain range, down the 
sides of which move countless glaciers. The delta of the river is 50 
miles wide, and the flats at the mouth of the river are cut up into 
innumerable islands by tidal sloughs and small glacial streams. The 
river is navigable for small boats, drawing three to four feet of 
water at high tide. When the tide recedes it uncovers some 250 
square miles of mud flats, on which live millions of ducks, geese, and 
other water birds in a game reservation. Before the founding of the 
town there were two canneries on the delta, at Orca and at Kokin- 
henic. The valley is an ancient lake bed, from the center of which 
erupted the brand-new (geologically speaking) Wrangell Mountains. 

Cordova (p.o., 980 pop. est. 1500 in 1938) is an incorporated town 
on Cordova Bay, 1,599 miles from Seattle, 440 miles northwest of 
Juneau, 50 miles southeast of Valdez. As the terminus of the Copper 
River and Northwestern Railway before it closed, Cordova was the 
distributing center for the rich copper-mining area around Kennicott, 
the copper and gold workings in the Wrangell Mountains, the former 
Katalla oil wells and the Bering coal fields, the Chugach National 
Forest, and the Prince William Sound fishing region — a region with 
a combined population of something over 3,300. Its principal indus- 


tries since the closing of the railroad arc salmon and crab canning, 
clam digging, and lumbering. In 1938 a sheltered harbor 10 feet deep, 
protected by breakwaters, was completed at a cost of $295,000. The 
Cordova Daily Times is published here. Cordova contains about three 
hundred houses, four churches, two banks, a grade and a high school, 
an Indian school, a movie house, public library, hospital, two hotels, 
stores, and all the conveniences of a much larger town in the States. 
The Red Dragon Library is housed in one of the oldest buildings in 

Puerto Cordova y Cordova was first named by Caamaiio in 1792 
and the name first published by Vancouver in 1798. The presence 
of pure copper in this region had been long known, and great 
"shields" of copper passed from the Copper River Indians in trade 
as far south as Sitka. Captain Abercrombie's expedition of 1884 made 
the country known. His second expedition in 1898 was occasioned by 
friction between American miners and the Canadian government and 
the desire of finding an "all-American route" to the Yukon. After 
1901, according to Abercrombie, "the entire valley, embracing the 
main and sub-drainage of the Copper River, was as well known as 
that of most any mining district in Montana." In the years between 
1898-1901 "the entire country had been explored, a road and bridges 
built, over which traffic could be continued during the entire season, 
roadhouses had been built and several hay ranches located. The gross 
expense to the government had been $193,000. $185,000 worth of 
placer gold had been taken out, and million-dollar copper mines were 
about to be discovered." Yet in 1898 the prospectors attempting to 
reach the Yukon via the Copper River Valley and the Valdez trail 
must have expended something like $2,000,000, for almost no return. 
In his report Abercrombie recommended the construction of a rail- 
road to the Yukon. 

A launch may be hired at Cordova to visit the Port Wells and 
College Fiord district of Prince William Sound, 80 miles west of 
Cordova. This is a glacier region, full of ice streams, waterfalls, 
islands, bird colonies, mountain goats, and bear. 

An auto road of 7 miles leads to Lake Eyak and Eyak (366pop.), 
from which a foot trail leads 3 miles to Power Creek Basin, a 
U-shaped valley. Mr. Eyak (2,500 alt.) can be climbed by means of a 
3-mile trail — from its summit is a magnificent view of the valley. 

the old copper river road 227 

Cordova to Chitina via the Copper River 
AND Northwestern Railroad * 

In 1904 surveys were being made for a railroad from tidewater to 
Eagle on the Yukon. The energetic Irishman, Michael J. Heney, who 
had been the contracting constructor of the White Pass and Yukon 
railway, after going over various routes with J. H. McPherson, en- 
gineer, and Jack Dalton, sourdough, called on Daniel Guggenheim 
and tried to convince him that Orca (Cordova) was the desirable 
terminus. The Guggenheims began to build their railroad from 
Katalla, as that seemed to offer easiest access to the Kennicott copper 
region and the Bering river coal fields. But Michael Heney started 
construction at Cordova without waiting for financial backing. The 
Katalla route proved disastrous — the wharf and artificial breakwater 
were swept away by floods. After the Guggenheim-Morgan syndicate 
received a wire notifying them of the disaster, the story goes that J. P. 
Morgan called a conference, and, banging his fist on a table, shouted, 
"Whatever the route, we've got to bring that copper and coal to- 
gether!" Heney's right-of-way was purchased by the syndicate, and in 
1908 he was given the contract to build the railroad. He sank caissons 
150 feet into beds of rushing streams, built a four-span bridge across 
the face of a moving glacier, and sitting in the doorway of his tent, 
bottle at side, pipe in fist, watched every shovelful of earth and every 
spike driven, and urged the work forward with choice language. 
Cordova became a boom town, full of railroad men, laborers, sur- 
veyors, clerks, lumberjacks, gamblers, with twenty-six saloons on its 
main street, the queen of them all the Red Dragon (now the public 
library), where men roistered weekdays and worshiped Sundays be- 
fore an altar let down by ropes from the beams, dropping silver dollars 
into a beer mug passed by the sky pilot. The Copper River and North- 
western Railroad, 131 miles to Chitina, with a branch line of 65 miles 
from Chitina to Kennicott, was completed in 1911 at a cost of 
$23,500,000, and in a few years had hauled from the Kennecott mine 
$100,000,000 worth of copper ore. In 1938, the ore having been ex- 
hausted, railroad operations were suspended. 

The turbulent, glacial Copper River was discovered by Nagaief in 
1781. It was called Copper River successively in the Native dialect, 

* The Copper River and Northwestern Railroad was closed in 1938, but the 
route is of historic interest. (For Chitina, sec Fart II, 4.) 


in Russian, and in English. It was later called Rio de los Perdidos 
(river of the damned) by Spanish explorers. Baranof was attracted 
by copper ingots in possession of the Chitina Indians, but was unable 
to find their source. In 1898 E. J. Cooper of the Calumet and Hecla 
Mining Company of Boston also searched the region for the source 
of the copper, without success. The following year two prospectors 
got old Chief Nicolai to show them the location of valuable deposits of 
bornite, containing eighty-five percent copper, and the wild hunt for a 
"copper mountain" was on. 

At the lower end of Abercrombie Rapids, just before reaching Mile 
52, the railroad runs for nearly a quarter-mile over Grinxell Glacier, 
so thickly covered with moraine and densely thicketed with cotton- 
wood and alder that few realize a glacier is underneath. 

Childs Glacier enters Copper River Valley from the west at the 
head of the delta, and ends in the Copper River in a vertical ice 
cliff 200 to 300 feet high. If set before it, the Capitol Building at 
Washington would about reach its top. This cliflF (all one sees of the 
glacier from the railroad) is so imposing that Childs looks larger than 
Miles Glacier farther on, but actually it is only half as large, with 
an ice tongue 10 or 12 miles long. It expands from a mountain valley 
into a small imperfect bulb that increases from i^s miles to 3 miles 
in width. As early as 1850 the glacier was observed by a Russian 
geologist, C. Grewingk. C. C. Holt ascended the Copper River in 
1882, but failed to describe the glacier. In July, 1884, Abercrombie 
ran the rapids in front of the glacier on his return trip, and estimated 
that it delivered 8,160,768,000 pounds of ice to the river annually. 
When he again ascended the river in 1898 Abercrombie described a 
beach 500 to 600 yards wide between the glacier and the river, but 
the water may have been very low. The river undercuts the glacier, 
and in the spring when an iceberg tumbles into the water the result- 
ing wave sometimes tosses iceblocks, weighing ten tons, on the bank, 
as well as gravel, sand, and boulders. 

Paralleling the course of the railroad for many miles can be seen 
a brush-grown corduroy wagon road and fallen bridges. 

Just north of Childs Glacier, 25 miles above the mouth of Copper 
River, is Miles Glacier, following westward into the valley from its 
source in the Chugach Mountains. It spreads out into a great bulb, 
its width increasing from 2^/4 to dVi miles, with a precipitous ice 


wall on its south, and a moraine-covered piedmont area on its north. 
It ends in a vertical ice clifl, discharging icebergs into the lakelike 
expanse of Copper River, partly damned by Childs Glacier. Seen from 
the railway it is less impressive than Childs, as it is much farther away. 
In 1885 this glacier was closer to where the railroad bridge now stands 
than Childs is now. In 1884 Abercrombie, finding the Copper River 
impossible to navigate, cut a trail to this glacier and traveled over 
its surface for twelve miles, taking three months for a journey of 
twenty miles. Miles Glacier has advanced and retreated many times 
since 1884, several times threatening the right-of-way. Before the 
bridge was built over Abercrombie Canyon, prospectors crossed over 
the glacier. At 131m. is Chitina. (See Part II, 4.) 


Valdez — Chitina — Kennicott — GuLKANA — Black Rapids Glacier — Big 


LEAVING CORDOVA, the steamer continues through Prince Wil- 
Ham Sound and docks at Valdez, the coast terminus of the Richardson 

Valdez (p.o., 55opop. est. 193H) on Prince WiUiam Sound is the 
headquarters of the Third Judicial Division. Approximately 1,600 
miles by regular steamship lane from Seattle, Valdez has an excellent 
landlocked harbor with an approximate area of 45 square miles. The 
dredging of a small boat and seaplane basin 12 feet deep, at an esti- 
mated cost of $68,500, has been recommended. There is an airport 
within the corporate limits of the town. Robe Lake, three miles from 
the town, parallel with the Richardson Highway, is equipped as a 
landing basis for seaplanes and pontoon planes. Planes equipped with 
wheels, pontoons, or skis may operate from Valdez the year round. 
The bay is never frozen, wheel-equipped planes may land on the 
beach at any season, and in summer ski planes may take off from the 
mud flats. This last is especially advantageous, making it possible to 



fly supplies to glacial mining districts during the summer months. 
The Washburn expedition flew to Walsh Glacier (Canada) in June 
by this means. 

The principal industry at Valdez is gold mining. There are numer- 
ous small mines in the immediate vicinity of the town, which is also 
a supply center for the large mining area to the north. There are 15 
blue-fox farms in Prince William Sound; and fox, mink, marten and 
land otter skins are regularly shipped from this area. The town is an 
outfitting point for big-game hunting. There are several good hotels, 
four churches, fraternal organizations, a public library, and an Amer- 
ican Legion museum. There are schools for white and Native children 
and an orphanage. The Valdez Miner, a weekly newspaper, is pub- 
lished here. 

Ellamar is a fishing village and cannery 20 miles south of Valdez, 
with a dance pavilion frequently visited by the people of Valdez. 
Tatilek (p.o., yopop.) is a Native village near Ellamar. 

In 1778 Captain Cook sailed into the northern arm of the Gulf 
of Alaska and named it Prince William Sound. In 1790, Puerto de 
Valdes was so named by Fidalgo. Whidbey entered Puerto de Valdes 
in 1794 but did not observe the glacier. The tent city that grew up 
in the gold-rush days was known as Copper City until 1898, when 
the name was changed to Valdez. 

In the 1890's Americans entering the Klondike by the Skagway 
route found it galling to pay duty to the Canadian government. 
Rumors of an old Russian trail to the Interior circulated, and guide- 
books were published showing imaginary "all-American" routes to the 
Yukon. In 1898 Capt. William Ralph Abercrombie was sent to the 
Copper River Valley to verify rumors of such a trail. He returned 
to the district in 1899 and thoroughly explored and mapped the area, 
discovered a feasible route to the Interior, and reported generally on 
the flora and fauna, the minerals, and the Natives. 

In the winter of 1898, 3,000 prospectors crossed Valdez Glacier 
on their way to the Yukon and 3,000 more arrived during the sum- 
mer. All but 200 or 300 (and the dead) came back the same way 
that fall. Captain Abercrombie saw these men in '98 and again in 
'99 and pictures them as a terrifyingly incompetent mass of human- 
ity, wholly unprepared physically and morally for what they had to 
face. Landed at Port Valdez the first problem was to get their goods 
from the ship to the high-water line. Not until Abercrombie's men had 


Strapped their packs to their backs did the prospectors adopt so simple 
an expedient. Then there was worse confusion. Most of the packs were 
so poorly tied that they burst when dropped from the carrier's shoul- 
ders, and nobody could be sure what belonged to whom. One group 
had imported a contraption called a "steam sled," a remarkable 
apparatus invented by a Yankee to mush over the glacier by steam. 
Much time was consumed in putting the steam sled together; but 
when steam was turned on, it was found to be incapable of drawing 
its own weight over the snow. Even had it worked, there was no fuel 
on the glacier, so the steam sled was allowed to rust away on the flats. 

Few of the prospectors knew enough to supply themselves with the 
two elementary necessities — wood and water. Many were blinded by 
the blazing northern sun reflected on the snow. Usually when this 
happened to one of a pair of partners the partnership was dissolved 
at once. Physically exhausted and nerves on edge, they fought terribly 
among themselves. They cursed the transportation companies for 
having brought them to Alaska, and Abercrombie and the army for 
not having gone ahead and cut trails. They were particularly bitter 
about the lack of mail facilities. 

Returning in 1899 Abercrombie found that a graveyard had sprung 
up since the previous winter. The tent city was crowded with destitute 
prospectors. Many had gone mad and talked of a "glacier demon," 
an unearthly being that threw men off the glacier. "Many of these 
people I had met and known the year before were so changed in their 
appearance, with their long hair hanging down their shoulders and 
beards covering their entire face, that I do not think I recognized one 
of them. They were crowded together, from 15 to 20 in log cabins 12 
by 15, in the center of which was a stove. On the floor of the cabin 
at night they would spread their blankets and lie down, packed like 
sardines in a box. Facilities for bathing there were none. Some of them 
were more or less afflicted with scurvy, while not a few of them had 
frost-bitten hands, faces, and feet. Their footwear in some cases con- 
sisted of the tops of rubber boots that had been cut off by Brown 
[Quartermaster's Agent Charles Brown] and manufactured into shoes. 
Around their feet they had wound strips of gunny sacks which were 
used in place of socks. Across the cabin from side to side were 
suspended ropes on which were hung various articles of apparel that 
had become wet in wallowing through the deep snow and had 
been hung up at night to dry. The odor emanating from these articles 


of clothing, the sore feet of those who were frozen, and the saliva 
and breath of those afllictcd with scurvy gave forth a stench that was 
simply poisonous as well as sickening to a man in good health, and 
sure death to one in ill health." Abercrombie fed four hundred and 
eighty destitute miners "who included all nationalities, professions 
and classes, white and black. Their failure was due to their advanced 
age, the average being 47 years, and lack of knowledge of mining. 
Ninety-five percent had failed in business ventures many times, and 
joined the gold rush in the hope that they might be one of the lucky 
men to strike it rich. Most of them were taken back to Seattle, and the 
rest were employed on the expedition, in addition to the number 
authorized at the beginning." 

The first hanging in Alaska took place at Valdez on New Year's 
morning, 1898. "Doc" Tanner had crept up on his three partners as 
they were sitting on a box in the tent, the light of a candle throwing 
their shadows on the canvas. He shot two of them, Call and Stinch- 
field, through the canvas. The second shot put out the light and the 
remaining partner, Dunn, threw himself forward on his stomach and 
was saved. Tanner was seized and given a trial which lasted from 
eleven that night until four in the morning. Five men in the settle- 
ment refused to have anything to do with the case, one man was 
appointed judge and all the others sat as jurors. At daybreak they 
broke a trail to a tree some distance from the cabin. Dunn asked to be 
allowed to place the noose around Tanner's neck but his hands 
trembled so violently someone else had to do it. Tanner asked that 
his clothes be given to a man named Reed, and Reed answered from 
the crowd, "I don't want your clothes. I wouldn't wear them." When 
asked if he had anything to say. Tanner answered, "Gentlemen, you're 
hanging the best man with a six shooter that ever came to Alaska or 
any other country. I want only one shot to a man. All right boys; 
fire at it." 

Valdez participated in the boom of 1904, when gold was discovered 
near Fairbanks, and again in the Copper Valley rush of 1907, when 
as many as sixty boats plied out of Valdez harbor. In 1910 it had 
about 1,500 inhabitants. Nine railroad companies, none of which ever 
built the projected road, selected Valdez as their ocean terminus. 
Long sled trains carrying as many as six hundred cases of eggs, sacked 
to prevent freezing, used to leave Valdez daily for points in the In- 
terior, and more than one thousand tons of grain and hay were trans- 


ported each year over the trail at rates of from 10 cents to one dollar 
a pound. 

In 1915 a great fire at Valdez destroyed most of the business sec- 
tion. The Valdez Prospector rescued some type from the burning 
building and got out an extra on wrapping paper, containing such 
items as, "McKinley Street will be rebuilt immediately and will be 
the first street in Alaska"; "Mrs. Chas. Bush saved the baby and a few 
other little things from her rooms in the Crawford Building." 


The 371 miles from Valdez to Fairbanks are made by motor coach in 
a day and a half, with an overnight stop in a comfortable roadhouse. The 
coach leaves Valdez on arrival of all passenger boats. Season, June 15 to 
October 15 (closed in winter). Reservations should be made in advance. 
The return coach leaves Fairbanks every Thursday at 8 a.m., making an 
overnight stop and arriving in Valdez Friday noon. If the coach is missed, 
rides may occasionally be caught on trucks and private automobiles or 
the trip made by plane. Mileposts mark the highway at frequent intervals. 
Gasoline and oil may be purchased at roadhouses marked thus (*). At 
Fairbanks begins the Steese Highway to Circle (see Part II, 6). 

At Willow Creek is the junction of the highway with the Edgerton 
Cutoff to Chitina. In view of the abandoning of the railroad from Cordova 
there has been proposed a 60-mile extension of the Edgerton Cutoff, or a 
limited operation of the railroad from Chitina to Kennicott. 

The Richardson Highway, still known to old-timers as the Rich- 
ardson Trail, was until the construction of the Alaska Railroad the 
most important means of access to the Interior, especially in winter, 
when the Yukon was closed to navigation. Before the days of the 
automobile, the trip took eight days by fast bobsled stage, and cost 
$150, without meals or lodging, and with a free baggage allowance 
of only twenty-five pounds. 

From sea level the highway climbs over the Chugach Range, past 
the Wrangell Mountains, then over the Alaska Range, at one point 
reaching an altitude of 3,310 feet, and finally descends into the rich 
farming and mining land of Tanana Valley. It passes varicolored 
mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, fields of flowers, rolling hill land, for- 
ests, Indian villages, lakes and rivers crammed with fish, and a wild- 
game country full of bear, moose, mountain sheep and game birds. 


In 1899 Capt. William R. Abcrcromhic headed a military exploring 
expedition to open a military road from Valdcz as far as Copper 
Center, and thence by the most direct route to Eagle City on the 
Yukon. In 1901 the War Department constructed a pack trail at a cost 
of almost $100,000 from Valdez to Eagle. By 1904 the pack trail had 
been extended to Fairbanks. In 1907, under the direction of W. P. 
Richardson, United States army general, and first president of the 
Alaska Road Commission, the trail from Valdez to Fairbanks was 
surveyed and improved so that it was passable by horse sled. Three 
years later it was possible for wagons to make the trip, and in 1913 the 
first automobile made a through trip from the coast to Fairbanks. 
From 1920 to 1927, under direction of J. G. Steese, United States army 
general, it was improved, widened and reconstructed to automobile 
highway standards, and feeder and branch roads were built. Sections of 
the highway are in local use during winter months. It is not kept 
open throughout its length during the winter. 

Leaving Valdez, the highway passes on the left Valdez Glacier, 
0.5m. (33 alt.). In summer the melting ice causes disastrous floods, 
so that the town must be protected by a dyke. The road skirts 
the glacier, crossing twenty-one streams that flow from it. The trail of 
'98 led directly over the glacier and does not touch the present road 
except at Copper Center. 

In 1898 Abercrombie followed the route over the glacier. "The 
wind was blowing a hurricane through the pass into the Interior, 
accompanied by gusts of sleet and snow, which, freezing as fast as 
they struck, coated men and beasts with an armour of ice. . . . To 
stand still was impossible. The only thing left to do was to simply 
drift with the blizzard, and this I did. Fortunately for the expedi- 
tion the point at which the summit was reached was exactly in the 
middle of the pass, and whenever an attempt was made to veer either 
to the right or left from the true course of following through the 
pass the sleet cut the faces of the men so they would turn their backs 
to the storm and proceed in the proper direction. Had the wind 
blown into the pass from the right or left the expedition would have 
simply drifted out onto the great glacial fields. . . . After some five or 
six hours' travel in the howling storm, where it was impossible to 
hear or see a comrade, a high and rocky cliff was finally rounded 
and the expedition beheld the most beautiful sight I have ever wit- 


nessed. The change was almost magical. Two yards after passing 
behind the shelter of this rocky cUfl there was a perfect haven of 
rest and sunshine, while out of the pass rushed the howling storm 
like the water out of the nozzle of a fire hose. Throwing ourselves 
on the snow in the sunshine, we stretched ourselves at full length 
and enjoyed the rest which only men can who have been battling 
for their existence. As if understanding the situation, the poor miser- 
able-looking pack ponies, their manes and tails all clotted with ice, 
lay down in the soft snow and grunted with satisfaction as the rays 
of the sun peeled the coating of ice off their bodies. ... I had now 
successfully crossed the Valdez Glacier at a season of the year when 
it was universally conceded to be impassable for man, making the 
journey in 29 consecutive hours of practically continuous work, with- 
out sleep, rest or shelter." 

The prospectors made a series of six camps on the terraces or 
benches of the glacier, and at each camp exhausted gold seekers gave 
up the journey. First Bench was on the southeast side of the glacier, 
and a prospector records that a baby got this far in 1898 — what became 
of it, and whether it got any farther, history does not record. Third 
Bench was two miles beyond First Bench with a rise of 25 feet in 100. 
At this point sleds were dragged by block and tackle up a slope of 
1,500 feet that quickly increased from an angle of 30 degrees to one 
of 45. Sixth Bench was the summit of the glacier, 19 miles above its 
seaward edge and at an elevation of 4,800 feet. 

At the summit the prospector faced the problem of getting down 
the other side. "It was said that men had often lost control of their 
sleds upon this slope and had been caught under their runners, where 
they would have died but for timely assistance. Sometimes they had 
escaped by jumping to one side or the other when the pace became 
too hot for them and permitting their sleds to run away with their 
heavy loads, in which case the sleds dashed down the slope. ... If 
they ran against any unyielding obstruction, of course they and their 
contents were dashed into useless fragments." 

Nine miles from the summit in 1898-9 there was a camp of about 
100 tents on the Klutina River. Many prospectors attempting to cross 
its swift, icy waters with packs on their backs lost their footing and 
drowned in knee-deep water. Three miles from Twelvemile Camp 
prospectors erected a sawmill, and at Saw Mill Camp built scows, 
skiffs, and rude rafts to float down the river. The river was constantly 


full of goods from overturned boats — sacks of flour would float for 
miles, the outside half-inch caking and protecting the rest, so that if 
a flour sack fetched up on a sandbar it was worth rescuing. Because 
of the many disasters prospectors attempted to brake their boats with 
long hnes from shore, hauled on by six men. If the boat went down 
the wrong branch, it was almost impossible to haul it back against 
the current to send it down the right branch. Some parties had to 
work empty boats upstream for second and third loads, one man, 
at the risk of his life, remaining in the boat, with a pole. At Lake 
Klutina the prospectors established what they called Klutina City, con- 
sisting of 100 or so tents, a log hut or two, and a single street dubbed 
Mostjuito Avenue. Many prospectors preferred to camp above the 
rapids and wait for the ice to form rather than attempt the dangerous 
journey by boat to Copper Center. 

Along part of the trail a mail route was maintained. "Jackson the 
Squaw Man" delivered all mail inside the Copper River district for 
one dollar a month per person during the summer. "When the mail 
boat came down the river, all hands attended the delivery. Sometimes 
2,000 letters were brought in at one time in packages of convenient 
size, arranged alphabetically and spread on a tarpaulin, sometimes 
inside a tent, and at other times in any convenient place outside. 
After the names were all read off and all letters claimed that belonged 
to members of that camp, the balance were gathered up, put in a sack, 
and, if the camp happened to be on a river or lake, thrown in a 
boat, in which the carriers hurried off to the next camp, where the 
same process was repeated." 

The Highway from Valdez to Copper Center was planned by 
Abercrombie to avoid the difficulties of the direct route. At 5 m. it 
crosses Lowe River (70 alt.), named for Lieut. P. G. Lowe whom 
Abercrombie called "a man to be killed but not conquered." Comfort 
lom. (251 alt.) is an abandoned roadhouse. Camp Comfort was the 
first stop for travelers on this road by Ed S. Orr's stage line — four- 
horse bobsleds with room for nine passengers and a driver: "All 
stages equipped with abundance of fur robes and carbon-heated foot 
warmers; stock changed every 20 miles." In i()og the roadhouse was 
described as "a new structure, built of finished timber, nestling among 
the trees, well protected from the wind and snow storms. Good meals 
are served and a comfortable bed can be had by the belated traveler." 


The road leaves the forest and cUmbs to Keystone Canyon 13 m. 
(307alt.) named by Abercrombie, presumably for Pennsylvania, the 
"Keystone" state. From the almost perpendicular walls of the canyon 
Lowe River can be seen far below. In 1907 it was necessary to haul 
the stage bodily over the rocks with a block and tackle. From 1906 
to 1912, Keystone Canyon was a familiar name throughout the United 
States. The Morgan-Guggenheim interests in Alaska, later known as 
the Alaska Syndicate, had a grant to build a railroad along the 
Copper River Valley, connecting the Gulf of Alaska with the navigable 
waters of the Interior. The coastline presented difficult engineering 
problems and right-of-ways were taken simultaneously from Valdez 
and Katalla, as it was not known which of these would prove the 
less difficult. The railroad which was finally built ran from Cordova 
to the copper mines at Kennicott. The right of way through Key- 
stone Canyon was abandoned, as was, apparently, all intention of 
building a railroad to the Interior. The Alaska-Reynolds Company, 
backed by the people of Valdez, the governor of Alaska, and a 
strong antimonopolistic feeling in the United States, made an un- 
successful attempt to thwart the Alaska Syndicate and build a rail- 
road to the Interior. Surveyors sent into Keystone Canyon were 
fired on, and one man was killed. The trial of the men responsible 
for the killing was held under charges of bribery and intimidation, 
and the Keystone Canyon episode became a great issue between the 
antimonopolistic, pro-conservation forces and their opponents. In The 
Iron Trail, Rex Beach tells the story from the point of view of the 

Horsetail Falls 14m. (37oalt.) is over 300 feet high. A great 
rent in the side of a mountain, visible on clear days from this point, 
is said to have been made by a meteor. The road continues to climb 
past Bridal Veil Falls 14.3 m. (400 alt.) and Snowslide Gulch 15 m. 
(600 alt.) about 300 feet above the river, where the rock has been swept 
clean by snow, and where the little bridge must be replaced annually 
on account of the tremendous slides, then over Bear Creek Suspension 
Bridge 17m. (65oalt.). In 1899 there was a mining camp of eight or 
ten log cabins on Bear Creek and a post office, Belcaro. Wortman's 
19m. (662 alt.) is an abandoned roadhouse, the end of the first day's 
journey in the old trail days. The only visitors now are occasional 
mountain goats. This roadhouse had accommodation for 100 persons 


and stables for 100 horses. It contained, beside the bedrooms, bath, and 
bar, a general store where jewelry was sold and where the traveler could 
even get his watch repaired. The proprietor was P. Magnuson, a 'gSer. 

At Sheep Creek Suspension Bridge 19.3m. (65oalt.) begins a climb 
of over 2,000 feet in about 6 miles, leading past Dead Horse Gulch 
25.4m. (2,70oalt.) where the skeletons of pack horses may still occa- 
sionally be seen. Such animals have left their bones in many parts 
of southern Alaska. They were regularly taken over what would ap- 
pear to be the most impassable routes. Army exploring expeditions 
in southern Alaska reported that the life of a pack beast was any 
place from a few days to a few weeks. The animals soon fell victims 
to a "puzzling" disease. A beast that had been carrying its pack 
willingly enough would suddenly stop in its tracks and give every 
evidence of suffering and complete exhaustion. No cure was known 
for this and the animals had to be shot. In one case the Indian guide 
had been so terrified by this procedure that he found himself unable 
to lead the white men further. Another expedition faced complete 
failure when kerosene leaked into the horses' feed and the animals 
would not eat it. As the men could not take the smell out of the oats 
they saturated gunny sacks with kerosene and rubbed the animals 
down with them. Unable to detect any special odor in their food, the 
horses ate contentedly. 

Thompson Pass 25.5 m. (2,722 alt.) is the highest point on the high- 
way in the Chugach Range. The stones here have been flattened down 
like a smooth pavement by the weight of an extinct glacier. The 
Chugach Mountains, lying between the Wrangell Mountains and the 
seacoast, are on an uplifted plain. This is apparent in the level skyline 
of the individual peaks and ranges. 

At Thompson Pass in '07 stage passengers thrust their noses under 
fur robes and looked from the bleak and exposed summit to the 
jagged Sawtooth Mountains on the west, to Lowe River flowing 
thousands of feet below, and to the north where lay the Tsaina River 
Valley leading to the Interior, Blizzards are frequent here, and the 
stone relief cabin that still stands was covered with snow all winter 
long, so that a door was built in the roof, and travelers walked 
through the roof downstairs. 

Crater Lake 28m. (2,36oalt.) is a pool sculptured from the living 
rock filled with snow water from the snowfields above. Worthington 


Glacier 30 m. (2,070 alt.) lies about 500 yards from the road, and may 
be inspected at short range. The highway now drops rapidly through 
Ptarmigan Creek 31m. (2,o5oalt.), Ptarmigan Drop 33m. (i,755alt.), 
a deserted roadhouse once crowded with travelers, to the Tsaina 
River 37.8m. (i,550alt.). At Devil's Elbow 38m. (i,6ooalt.) the waters 
of die river surge through a cleft in the rock, apparently dropping into 
a subterranean channel, to reappear a short distance down the canyon. 
Beaver Dam 42m. (1,305 alt.), named after a beaver's dam still visible 
on the east, is a deserted roadhouse and telegraph station. After pass- 
ing the Bad Lands 46m., at Stewart Creek 47m. (i,i24alt.) the high- 
way leaves Tsaina River and follows Tiekel River (Indian for "no 
fish"). Tiekel Roadhouse 52m. (i,25oalt.) is open for meals and 
lodging. Tiekel Telegraph Station 57.5 m. (1,440 alt.) and Ernestine 
62.7 m. (1,480 alt.) were important stations in the early days, now 
abandoned. In 1899 Abercrombie's expedition, under Lieutenant Bab- 
cock, reached Tiekell City shortly after a forest fire had destroyed 
the settlement. They found a public notice nailed to a tree trunk: 
Pop. before fire 39; Pop. after fire 5. Smith, Mayer. Lieutenant 
Babcock had surveyed a road route through Kimball pass and ex- 
plored the Tonsina River in a canvas boat. He maintained friendly 
terms with the Indians, who called his soldiers "McKinley men." At 
68m. is a mild Sulphur Spring. Tonsina Lodge* 80 m. (1,500 alt.) is 
open for meals and lodging. There is excellent trout fishing in the 
stream by the roadside, and bears are often seen near here. Tonsina 
Rivier 80.1 m. is at the foot of a long hill to the tableland above. Part 
way up the hill are the remains of a deserted Indian village. Lake 
Pippin 84 m. (1,980 alt.) is a landing place for pontoon planes and a 
nesting place for geese, ducks, and wild swan. From this point can be 
seen in clear weather the Wrangell Range, some of the principal points 
of which are Mt. Drum, Mt. Sanford, Mt. Wrangell, and Mt. Black- 

In an area of 5,500 square miles (100 miles by 70 miles) there are 
in the Wrangell Mountains at least 10 peaks of 10,000 feet above sea 
level. (Mt. Wrangell is an active volcano, named for Baron Wrangell, 
Russian governor of Alaska.) The Wrangell Mountains, unlike their 
neighbors to the south and north, are of volcanic origin, for the most 
part masses of lava and volcanic mud piled on an earlier surface o£ 
much diversity. The whole central mountain mass above 7,000 feet 
contains large snowfields. From these, glaciers drain in all directions 


down canyonlike valleys, molded by the glaciers themselves. The 
greatest glaciers flow to the north, and the largest, the Nebesna and 
Chisana ice streams, are 30 and 45 miles long, respectively. 

Mt. Sanford (16,210 alt.), the highest unsealed peak in North 
America, was climbed for the first time by Bradford Washburn on 
July 21, 1938, with a small party. The ascent was planned carefully, 
based on a series of aerial photographs taken the year before. De- 
scending, the climbers skied in one hour and twenty minutes the 
6,000 feet between the summit and the last camp that had taken them 
seven and one-half hours to climb. 

At 89m. is Willow Lake (1,430 alt.). Willow Creek 92.4m. 

(i,38oalt.) is the meeting point of the Chitina and Valdez sections 
of the Richardson Highway. 


The Edgerton Cutoff is 39 miles of highway between Willow Creek 
and Chitina. It was named for Maj. Glen C. Edgerton, formerly chief en- 
gineer of the Alaska Road Commission. 

At 6m. is Pleasant Lake Fox Farm (i,28oalt.), no longer in 
operation, and at 12m. is Kenny Lake (i,25oalt.). Lower Toxsixa 
Roadhouse 24m. (75oalt.) is open for meals and lodging. Mountain 
goats are found on the range to the south. At 24.5 m. is Tonsina 
River (75oalt.), its name meaning "cottonwood." There is excellent 
grayling and trout fishing in the creek below Liberty Falls 29 m, 

An unusual view of the Wrangell Range is at 34.501. Left to right 
are Mt. Drum (12,000 alt.), Mt. Wrangell (14,000 alt.), an active vol- 
cano occasionally wreathed with smoke, and Mt. Blackburn (16,- 
140 alt.). This range contains one of the most compact systems of 
Alaska glaciers and has been quite thoroughly explored and mapped. 
Mt. Blackburn was ascended by Dora Keen, an experienced Alpinist, 
in 1912. Miss Keen, herself only five feet high, had climbed many 
peaks of the Swiss Alps, but she was convinced that no Swiss guide 
would ever venture upon such a dangerous climb so lightheartedly as 
her sourdough companions. "No one uses ropes in Alaska mountain 
climbing," she remarked, "nor are ice axes known. When a man 


perishes in a crevasse, the glacier is named after him." In her first 
attempt she left the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad in 
August, 191 1, four months after it had been constructed, at Mile 192, 
and traveled up the Kennicott Glacier to the foot of the mountain. 
Turned back at 8,700 feet by a blizzard, she made a successful attempt 
the following year with a party of six men, reaching the summit on 
May 19, 1912, after spending thirteen days in caves on the mountain 
during a severe storm. At 35.8m. is the northernmost of the three 
Chitina lakes (680 alt.) followed by the road. Lake Chen an 38 m. 
(650 alt.) is the southernmost of the chain. Its clear waters are full of 
grayling, and the Native name is supposed to mean "thank you," in 
recognition of the fact! 

Chitina (p.o., 545 alt., 116 pop.,) is at 39m. The name is a com- 
pound Indian word: chiti (pronounced "chitty"), copper, and na, 
river. Most gazetteers give its pronunciation as chit ee' na, but residents 
in the vicinity preserve the Indian pronunciation that sounds some- 
thing like chitfnaw. 

A trapping and prospecting center, the town is surrounded on all 
sides by mountains, save for one gap on the southwest, through which 
can be seen forty miles distant Spirit Mountain (3,000 alt.), thought 
by the Indians to be the home of a mighty spirit. There are two hotels, 
several general stores, and the modern conveniences of a much larger 
town. Near the Chitina Hotel may be seen the largest copper nugget 
(2,850 lbs.) ever found in Alaska. From the road to the south (a half- 
hour's walk) a clearer view of Spirit Mountain and Mt. Blackburn 
may be had. Another pleasant walk of about a mile northward along 
the railroad leads to Copper River bridge, where Copper River meets 
Chitina River, its largest tributary. 

The Chitina or Copper River Indians were never subjugated by 
the Russians, as they could simply retire into the mountains when 
pursued after an attack. Abercrombie found them friendly in 1898, 
however, and estimated their number at about 300. They had never 
seen horses, and thought the English word "saddle" the same as 
"Seattle," the latter word having been made familiar to them by 
prospectors. They made tea by mixing a local leaf with English 
Breakfast, and their tobacco consisted of a piece of gunnysack rolled 
in wood ashes. In winter they lived in underground houses 8 by 10 
feet. The Indian whose bench was on the right side of the fire as the 


Stranger entered considered him as his guest, and ofTered him food 
and shcher, while his wife carefully looked the guest over to see if 
his mittens and moccasins needed repair. These Indians hammered 
copper nuggets into plates which they exchanged with the Tlingits. 
Each plate was worth several slaves, and the possessor of five or six 
plates was a rich man. Col. Alfred B. lies, who explored the region 
for a copper syndicate in 1902, said that the local Indians were able 
to temper copper to the hardness of steel. Their tools were of copper; 
but copper tools were never used in hammering fishing stakes on the 
bank of the river, as this would make the river angry — stones from 
the bank were the proper thing. Throwing stones in the river would 
anger it, and the person doing so risked being drowned next time he 
attempted to cross its milky, glacial waters. The Indians of this 
vicinity are noted for their delicate beadwork on moccasins and their 
carving of the diamond willow; the contrast of the white outer wood 
with the red inner heart produces an unusual effect. 

About 25 miles east of Chitina is Strelna from which a wagon 
road leads to Kuskulana and Nugget Creek. 


Although the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad is discontinued, 
operation of a light tramway, or conversion of the roadbed into a highway, 
is not improbable. It is unlikely that a country of such great natural 
beauty and historic interest will remain inaccessible to tourists for any 
length of time. 

McCarthy (p.o., ii5pop.), sometimes called Shushanna Junction, 
is a mining village near Kennicott with hotels, stores, and an airplane 
landing field. From McCarthy a wagon road and trails lead into the 
heart of an important big-game country, abounding with mountain 
goats, bear, and moose. Mountain goats are especially abundant on a 
narrow strip of mountainous land not more than a mile wide at any 
place, completely surrounded by glaciers and the Wrangell Range, 
known as "the island." Trails lead north to Chisana (13 pop.) a 
mining camp on Bonanza Creek, thence west to Slana, where they 
connect with the trail that leads from Gulkana on the Richardson 
Highway northeast to the Tanana country and the Yukon. Mt. 
Chisana has an altitude of 3,200 feet. 

The Last Frontier 


.LASKA, with an area one-fifth that of continental 
United Stales, has a population under sixty thousand, or about four 
hundred times as much space per person as the average American 

One-third of this population is concentrated in the Panhandle, or 
southeastern Alaska. There are ten incorporated towns in the district 
and many white villages and Indian settlements. Juneau, Ketchikan, 
Petersburg, Sitka, and Medakatla are representative of this industrially 
developed area. Along Prince William Sound there are other in- 
corporated towns (such as Cordova) similar in every way to those in 
the Panhandle. But a few miles north of Anchorage the railroad enters 
country which is typified by Girdwood and Curry. 

Fairbanks is the chief city of interior Alaska and serves a vast gold- 
mining area. Here the population is continually shifting. New cities 
spring into existence overnight and once populous centers (such as 
Ruby and Olnes) fade to ghost towns. Along the Upper Yukon the 
population is chiefly Native, and stationary. Fort Yukon is the oldest 
English-speaking settlement along the river. Holy Cross is one of the 
oldest Roman Catholic missions to the Eskimo. Norton Sound and 
the Kuskokwim district have remained Native country, largely un- 
traveled by the white man. "To the Westward," the Alaska Peninsula 
and the islands beyond, is fishing country, inaccessible by ordinary 
tourist travel. Unga, in the Shumagin Islands, is one of the cod-fishing 
villages along these waters. 

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below: Ketc/iif^an 

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above: Sit/^a 
below: Cordova 

ABovt: luithcr Dunam's House, MctUil{iitLi 
below: Olnts 

above: ]V/uiif lit Unga 

center: Holy Cross 

below: Iglu on Lower Kus/^of^wim 

above: Gird wood 

center: Fort Yiif^on 

below: Fish Rac}{ at Uricihi^lcct 

1 m^ 


Kennicott (217 pop. in 1930, now almost deserted) is the terminus 
of the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad. The town was 
named for Robert Kennicott, born in 1835, a pioneer in Alaskan ex- 
ploration. Too delicate to attend school as a child, he was educated by 
his father. At the age of twenty he was commissioned by the Illinois 
Central Railroad to make a natural-history survey of southern Illinois. 
When only twenty-four he went to Alaska and explored the country 
for three years, reaching Fort Yukon. In 1865 he was put in charge of 
the Western Union Telegraph Company expedition. He died of heart 
trouble at Nulato in 1866. Kennicott was the headquarters of the 
famous Kennecott Copper Mine. Upon the left, approaching the rail- 
road station, is a great glacial moraine that looks like the tailings of 
a gigantic dredge. On the sharp bluffs rising to the right of the 
station at an altitude of 2,200 feet is the mill, the power plant, the 
warehouse, offices, and homes. Over all is the aerial tramway from 
the mines. 

The mines themselves were not only four miles distant, but 4,000 
feet higher. There still remain more than forty miles of underground 
workings, connecting the Bonanza, Jumbo, Mother Lode, and Erie 
mines, through which the ore was trammed to the shafts and sent 
over the aerial tramway to the mill. The miners' wives and children 
remained at home while the miners slept in bunkhouses at the mines. 

In 1898 Stephen Birch, a young mining engineer just out of 
Columbia, joined Abercrombie's expedition. In 1900 he bought out 
seven prospectors' holdings at an average price of $25,000 each, gam- 
bling that the copper would prove to be a vein and not merely a 
surface formation. He became one of the organizers of the Kennecott 
Copper Company, in which Guggenheim and Morgan interests be- 
came the principal shareholders. In 1906, at the age of thirty-six, Birch 
became president of the company. Within twelve years the mines paid 
several times the value of the original cost and construction. 

Completing the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad, the" 
Alaska Syndicate organized the Alaska Steamship Company, and thus 
controlled the transportation of the ore from mine to smelter. When 
the Jumbo mine was discovered it was found to surpass even the 
Bonanza in richness — it was practically pure chalcocite, in a vein 
measuring 180 by 80 feet. 

The ore body occurs on the western slope of Bonanza Mountain, 
5,000 feet above Kennicott Glacier and 7,000 feet above sea level. The 


Story goes that two prospectors, Tarantula Jack Smith and Clarence 
Warner, halted for the night near this mountain. There was no grass 
anywhere, and it looked as if their horses would go hungry. Looking 
up the mountainside, on its western slope, vivid in the rays of the 
setting sun, they saw a patch of green. "Grass?" asked one of the 
prospectors, idly. Suddenly he leaped to his feet. "No! Malachite or 
chalcocite! Copper ore! A mountain of it!" 

The outcrop was found to be nearly pure chalcocite, from 60 to 70 
percent copper, with three or four dollars a ton in silver, and a litde 
gold. A striking feature of this ore body was that the great masses of 
chalcocite which composed it appeared directly on the outcrop, 
covered, if at all, with a mere film of azurite; and these rich masses 
standing in pinnacles on the comb of the ridge, or showing as blotches 
on its steep western face, made one of the most remarkable surface 
showings of ore to be seen anywhere in the world, in the majestic 
setting of the castellated limestone cliffs above and the Kennicott 
Glacier thousands of feet below. 

During the boom years a force of 600 miners was not uncommon, 
but in 1938 the mine was closed down upon the exhaustion of the ore. 

(See page 242.) 

North of Willow Creek the road passes through sparsely timbered 
tablelands. From Copper River lOom. (i,32oalt.), is an unobstructed 
view of miles of the river itself, as well as the Chugach Range to the 
southwest and the Wrangell Range to the northeast. Mt. Drum is 
only 20 miles away. The glacier-fed Klutina River means, in the 
language of local Indians, "river with big head." At the junction of 
the Klutina and Copper rivers is Copper Center* 103m. (p.o., 
i,02oalt., loopop. est. 1938), the point where the old trail of '98 over 
the Valdez Glacier came out from the mountains. Settled in '96, 
Copper Center was the first white town in interior Alaska. It was an 
outfitting point for prospectors, and there are still standing a number 
of prospectors' cabins, rudely but comfortably constructed, in one case 
with the name of its owner carved in a door, windows glazed with 
bottles. The roadhouse, today open for meals and lodging, was always 
crowded in the early days of the trail. It cost fifteen thousand dollars 


to erect, boasted spring beds, and its modern baths were "one of the 
features of the estabUshment." In 1898 Copper Center consisted of 
"75 tents, some fine log cabins, a few caches, and a hotel and post 
office." Three hundred prospectors spent that winter here. Near Cop- 
per Center, on the lower leg of the Copper River, was Copper Ferry, 
where prospectors were ferried across the river to begin their trip 
northward to Eagle and the Fortymile country (see Part II, 2). Copper 
Center Native Village 104.5m. (i,025alt.) still has a number of 
Native inhabitants. 

Tazlina River mm. (i,oioaIt.) is a glacial stream, its name mean- 
ing, "swift waters." Here is a splendid view of the Wrangell Range. 
Simpsons 113 m. (1,190 alt.) is in the heart of the moose country. At 
118 m. the peaks of the Alaska Range begin to come into view in the 
north. Mt. Simpson is 5,200 feet high. The mountains of this range 
owe their relief to fractures of the earth's crust; the rocks to the 
north of the break are lifted high above those to the south. Erosion, 
acting upon the broken edge, has carved the separate crest as we now 
see it, leaving the areas of harder rock in high relief. There are rem- 
nants of an early ice sheet — flat-topped mushroom caps on spires above 
5,000 feet. 

Gulkana * 128m. (p.o., i,385alt.) is an important trading post and 
a comfortable roadhouse on the Gulkana River. A large copper nugget 
makes a convenient bench by the doorway. Across the bridge is a 
Native village, and on the hill above the bridge a Native burial 
ground. Abercrombie Trail 131m. (i,64oalt.) is the name of a new 
road which leads through Gakona (p.o.) and Chestochena centers 
to the vast mineralized area north of Wrangell Range. From Chesto- 
chena a summer road has been completed to Slate Creek, a distance 
of approximately 60 miles. The old Millard trail to Eagle and the 
Fortymile country also started north from 131m. 

Before Capt. William R. Abercrombie laid out this trail in 1899, 
B. F. Millard of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, with the assistance of 
the Great Northern Party headed by H. T. Smith, made a trail to the 
Yukon, beginning at the Klowosinak River and running northeast 
past Mt. Drum and Mt. Sanford to the Tanana. The trail passed Big 
Rocky Run and Big Rocky River, a red, swift stream flowing from 
Mt. Drum. Beyond the Sanford River to the Slana River and Lake 
Mentasta, the country was flat and swampy; around Chestochena, 


Gakona and Tazlina rivers rushed thnjugh high banks of sand, gravel, 
and clay. Only the most daring prospectors managed to get over this 
trail. Failing to find gold, by August 15, 1898, most prospectors auc- 
tioned ofT their goods and hit the back trail to Valdez. Flour that had 
sold for S18 a hundred pounds went for $3; beans, for a cent and a 
half a pound; $15 blankets for $3; $16 rifles for $2.75; and many 
things had to be given away. Prospectors "going out" cheerfully 
called themselves "cold feet." Returning to Valdez, the prospectors 
found tents replaced by log cabins and frame buildings, and many 
of them, now entirely destitute, were fed by Captain Abercrombie's 

Poplar Grove 140m. (1,805 alt.) i^ '^^e site of an abandoned road- 
house, from which may be seen the Gulkana River far below. Sour- 
dough RoADHousE 150m. (i,87oalt.) is open for meals and lodging. 
There is excellent grayling fishing here. From Hogans Hill 160 m. 
(2,450 alt.) are visible all four mountain ranges in this part of Alaska: 
the Alaska, Wrangell, Talkectna, and Chugach. The mountain to the 
northwest of the abandoned Haggard Telegraph Station 165m. 
(2,37oalt.) is Mt. Deborah (i2,54oalt.). Meiers Roadhouse 175m. 
(2,7i7alt.) is open for meals. In 1907 the proprietor of this roadhouse 
sold $1,300 worth of hay from this land in a single season. Paxson 
Lake 181 m. (2,500 alt.), 12 miles long, is famous for its lake trout, 
grayling, whitefish, and waterfowl. Here Dr. L. L. Hufman, who 
previously had won a trout-fishing contest conducted by the Tanana 
Valley Sportsmen's Association, catching a 26 V^ pound trout, bettered 
his own record by catching a 27-pounder near the Gulkana River, 
which enters the lake on the north and leaves it on the south. Bear 
may often be seen fishing here in June and July. 

Paxson Lodge 191m. (2,697alt.) was the scene of much prospecting 
in 1905. It is still a favorite roadhouse for hunters, and its interior, 
recently enlarged and remodeled to lodge about 50 persons at one 
time, is hung with hunters' trophies. Here a trail branches east from 
the highway, skirting the southern side of the Alaska Range to 
Chisna, where it turns south to Dempsey and joins the Abercrombie 
Trail at Chestochena. A connecting road between Paxson and the 
entrance of Mt. McKinley National Park has been proposed. This 
road, involving the construction of about 155 miles of new highway, 
would extend from Paxson to Valdez Creek, thence to Cantwell, and 


SO to the Park. Such a highway would serve not only tourists but 
miners, as it would traverse a rich mineral belt. 

At 196 m. is Fish Creek, full of trout and grayling. The highway 
follows the edge of Summit Lake to Gun Creek. West of the high- 
way, near the proposed road to Mt. McKinley National Park, is 
Denali (p.o., 52 pop.). Summit Glacier 201.5m. (3,241 alt.) is the 
dividing point between the Yukon and the Copper river watersheds. 
The water from Summit Glacier may end up either in the North 
Pacific Ocean (flowing down Gun Creek into Summit Lake and 
thence to the mouth of the Copper River) or in the Bering Sea (flow- 
ing into the Delta River, thence down the Tanana, and finally by way 
of the Yukon into the sea). Isabella Pass 203m. (3,3ioalt.) is the 
highest point on the Richardson Highway. Here the old winter trail 
took to the treacherous ice of Delta River 206.5m. (3,020 alt.). At 
Yost's roadhouse, then an important stop on the bank of the Delta 
River, a big light hung nightly outside the door to guide the traveler. 

At McCallum 208 m. (2,920 alt.), an abandoned telegraph station 
and roadhouse, a bell that saved the life of many travelers is still in 
place above the station. Along a line of stakes still remaining on the 
bars of the river was stretched a wire, one end of which was fastened 
to the bell. During the winter, when the roadhouse was sometimes 
completely covered by drifts, the gale blowing down the valley kept 
the bell ringing, thus guiding the exhausted traveler to shelter. 

Rainbow Mountain 212 m. is so called from its numerous slides 
of delicate pastel shades. At 214m. a trail (15 minutes' climb, then 30 
minutes' walk) leads east of the highway to the rim of Glory Hole 
(2,600 alt.), a great basin in the bottom of which is a lake. This is a 
favorite spot for caribou, and in late August herds of them may be 
seen here. At Delta River Canyon 214m. to 233m., the highway 
crosses many turbulent glacier streams by bridge or ford. Several 
glaciers are close to the road. 

Rapids Roadhouse 233m. (2,i3oalt.), at the mouth of the canyon, 
is in the heart of a big-game country. The varicolored mountains are 
full of mountain sheep and brown bear, and the hills and valleys are 
feeding grounds for caribou. Moose are common in the open, park- 
like stands of small spruce and poplar at the foot of the mountains. 

Col. H. E. Revell, who with his family operates Rapids Roadhouse, 
discovered one morning in December, 1936, that the glacier which 


ordinarily was visible only on a clear day and then as a narrow, white 
line in the far distance, now stretched across the floor of the little 
valley like a bulwark. Whether this change had been taking place so 
slowly as to be almost imperceptible or whether the glacier had 
started on a tobogganlike slide, the Revells were unable to decide. But 
the fact remained that the glacier had moved not only feet but miles, 
was still moving, and showed no intention of stopping. In February, 
Otto William Geist made a trip by airplane with Jack Herman to 
photograph the face of the glacier and make a preliminary study of 
its advance. 

"Early in April," wrote Geist, "four of us, outfitted with survey 
instruments as well as barometers, cameras, thermometers, bedding, 
food, and a tent, were landed by plane on the glare ice of the river 
two miles above the face of the glacier. The next day Harry Revell 
brought our equipment to the foot of the glacier with his dogs, and 
we pitched our tent less than 300 feet from the face of the glacier. 
The vast river of ice that stretched for a mile and a half across the 
valley, twenty-five miles or more back, and 400 to 500 feet high, 
seemed to be a living, sinister mass. It rumbled and crashed and shook 
the earth until we could easily imagine we were in front-line trenches. 
Even the dogs barked at it. 

"The purpose of our trip was to map the region into which the 
glacier might advance, to measure accurately the rate of flow and to 
photograph systematically the glacier and its surroundings. The ad- 
vance of the ice was easily measured. At regular intervals, lines of 
stakes were set perpendicular to the moving face, and daily the dis- 
tance between the stakes and the edge of the ice was measured with 
steel tapes. While we were there, the glacier's advance was a little over 
25 feet per day. Since it began to move nearly a year ago, it has 
covered a distance of approximately four miles. Undoubtedly, there 
are many flowing glaciers on the earth's surface but it is very seldom 
that such an active mass is so close to civilization, to be studied and 

"The moraine and other glacial deposits in the Big Delta district 
bear out the stories of Natives, handed down to them, of days when 
the Black Rapids glacier was on the opposite side of the river, miles 
from its last year's location. So surely this is not the first journey 
taken by this restless mass of ice. The cause of such a glacial move- 
ment is the enormous accumulation of ice and snow in the catchment 


basin. When this load becomes heavy enough and is excited by an 
earthquake or other unusual disturbance, the entire mass automati- 
cally begins to move. The pressure of billions of tons of ice and snow 
somehow must be released, and so the inexorable march begins. In 
the last few months, the movement of the glacier has slowed down to 
less than 19 feet per day, and indications point toward the probability 
that its chief force has been spent and it can not cover the several 
hundred feet to the river before spring. 

"If all of Alaska's glaciers had the itinerant characteristics of the 
Black Rapids glacier certain sections of the Territory wouldn't be a 
very safe place for human habitation, but fortunately most of them 
are content with slow recession or occasional sluffing and cause no 
worry to near-by residents." 

The roadhouse is the relay station for telephone conversations, as 
through conversations are impossible between Valdez and Fairbanks. 
There are two telephones on the wall. The proprietress places a re- 
ceiver at each ear and talks alternately into the Valdez and Fairbanks 
phones. The fact that she is the repository of the intimate secrets of 
much of interior Alaska has not spoiled her light touch at the cook- 

Donnelly 243m. (1,770 alt.), an abandoned telegraph station, is 
in the heart of a big-game country. The highway passes over a shoul- 
der of isolated Pillsbury Dome 253m. (2,875 alt.), ^^ '^^ altitude of 
2,350 feet, where Mt. Hayes (i3,94oalt.) and Mt. Deborah (12,540 alt.) 
are clearly visible to the southeast. Northward is the vast Tanana 
Valley. It is about an hour's climb to the top of the Dome, where there 
is an excellent view of this whole section. The highway passes Beale's 
Cache 262m. (i,6ooalt.), now abandoned — the center of a big-game 
country — and crosses Jarvis Creek 269.5m. (i,2ooalt.). McCarty * 
280m. (i,oooalt.), also known as Grundler, Big Delta (p.o.) and 
Tanana Ferry, is a trading post and an important supply point for 
the upper Tanana Valley. The Tanana River ("river of the mountain 
men") is navigable in summer by small steamer to Fairbanks. There 
is an excellent roadhouse at McCarty, and the ferry transports the 
stage to the north bank of the river, using the current of the river for 
propulsion by a method at least 5,000 years old. 

Tanacross (p.o., 80 pop.) is on the Tanana River about 100 miles 
above Big Delta. Above Tanacross is Tetlin (p.o.), a Native village. 


The Office of Indian Affairs maintains a school and a dispensary at 
each settlement and an area surrounding Tetlin has been set aside for 
trapping exclusively by Natives. 

If the traveler suddenly catches sight of an American bison looking 
as if he had escaped from a nickel, let him not be alarmed. Few people 
outside the immediate vicinity of Fairbanks realize that in Alaska 
wild bulTalo roam — not bufTalo in a corral behind a fence, but real 
wild bufFalo in the wilderness. This is not so strange as one might 
think, for a short time ago, as geological history goes, bufTalo in 
uncounted millions roamed what were then the upland plains of a 
higher and drier Alaska. Their bones are now found in profusion in 
the graves and mud banks of gold-bearing creeks. Because of climatic 
changes, these vast herds became extinct and Alaska remained, until 
1926, without what must have been at one time its most characteristic 
animal. In that year a group of Fairbanks citizens formed the Alaska- 
Yukon Game Protective and Propagation Association. At the first 
meeting of the association it was decided to ask the Alaska legislature 
to appropriate money for the introduction of deer, elk, and bulTalo 
into the interior of Alaska, as the members believed that in the con- 
stant cycle of climatic change, the time had now come when these 
animals would thrive once more. In 1927 the Alaska legislature, 
through the efforts of Representative Fred Johnston, voted an appro- 
priation for the introduction of all three of these animals. But because 
of opposition from officials elsewhere, the buffalo were the only 
animals obtained. 

Twenty-three head were crated at the National Bison Range at 
Boise, Montana, and landed at Fairbanks on the fourth of June. A 
public meeting was held and all the truck owners in town volunteered 
to take the crated animals out to their place of liberation on the Big 
Delta River, just north of the Alaska Range. E. B. Collins, with a 
party of volunteer helpers from the association, had left the day before 
and constructed a releasing corral. One bull and three cows were 
taken to the Alaska College to be held over the winter for observation 
and as an insurance against the entire herd's being wiped out, if the 
animals could not survive on the range selected. These animals were 
subsequently released the following spring. 

The remaining nineteen were hauled by trucks to the Big Delta 
and, after much trouble and some exciting scenes during which the 
nearest trees became very handy, were liberated in the corral. The 


backing of the huge animals out of their crates seemed to have been 
the greatest problem confronting the best brains of the expedition. 
"Back up" didn't seem to be a word ever taught in the buffalo 
vocabulary, though they kicked back with great enthusiasm when 
Mr. Collins tried to drag them backwards by the tail. The problem 
was solved by tipping the crates up at such a steep angle that the 
animals slid out by themselves. 

Of the buffalo taken out to the college, one cow was lost by acci- 
dent the first week she was there. Another cow's hip was so badly 
damaged while on board ship that she had to be shot at the corrals. 
The following winter another cow was lost by accident in the ice of 
Jarvis Creek. 

This left twenty animals to start Alaska's buffalo herd. Since the 
first year, the increase has been phenomenal. No one really knows 
how many animals there actually are, although one count gives the 
number as over one hundred. Because of the favorable climatic con- 
ditions and the abundant feed, the animals are much larger than the 
original stock in Montana. Great bulls wander through the plains and 
rolling hills of the Big Delta country, their long manes and beards 
almost sweeping the ground. Buffalo cows and calves are a common 
sight in spring and fall to motorists crossing this country on the 
Richardson Highway. 

The hope of the association, now known as the Fairbanks Sports- 
men's Association, is that the elk, which once lived in this country at 
the same time as the buffalo, will also resume its place as one of the 
common game animals. 

These Alaska buffalo are owned by the government, under the 
control of the game commission. They are protected by law for an 
indefinite period of years. When they become numerous enough, 
possibly by 1945, permission may then be extended, as is now done in 
some States, for hunters to kill a limited number annually. 

The highway climbs a steep rocky bluff after passing Shaw Creek 
202m. (920 alt.), where there is excellent fishing. At Tenderfoot 
Creek 296m. (950 alt.), placer gold was discovered in 1907, and in the 
next year produced over a million dollars. At 297m. is "million dollar 
mile," where the road is surfaced with tailings from the mines. Rich- 
ardson (p.o., Sooalt., 4pop. 1938) is at 301m. The postmaster says, 
"You would be surprised at the amount of time I spend answering 


letters addressed to the Chamber of Commerce." The town was 
named in honor of Gen. Wilds P. Richardson, and has twice been 
almost destroyed by washouts. Banner, Democrat, and Redman creeks, 
all near here, contain placer gold deposits, and some of them are being 
reworked. Richardson Roadhouse 302m. (875 alt.) is not open. Gaso- 
line Creek 303m. (86oalt.) was so named, because, in the early days 
of the road, cars from Fairbanks had to refill their tanks here. The 
better surfaced road no longer makes this necessary. Birch Lake 
312m. (8ioalt.) is a resort for citizens of Fairbanks — there is excellent 
swimming in the birch-bordered lake. At Fox Farm * 320m. (720 alt.), 
silver, blue, white, and red fox and mink are bred and raised, as well 
as rabbits that when skinned will be glorified into "chinchilla." Good 
meals are served here. Lake Harding 325.5m. (700 alt.), named after 
President Harding, is about a mile from the highway. It is a play- 
ground for people living in Fairbanks, with fishing, hunting, swim- 
ming, and boating. There are gold prospects here. Many grayling are 
found in the clear water of Salcha River 331m. (64oalt.), and near 
by is a small Indian village. Salchasket Telegr.\ph Station 338 m. 
(610 alt.) is now used to house a road-maintenance crew. Its Indian 
name was pronounced "Salt Jacket," by prospectors. At Piledriver 
Slough 343m. (600 alt.), the road, passing through the flats of the 
Tanana, crosses one of the many meandering channels of the river. 
Bergman's i8-Mile Roadhouse* 353m. (50oalt.), 18 m. from Fair- 
banks, is one of the few roadhouses in Alaska like those in the States: 
a place where one may dine and dance. At Ninemile 362 m. (475311.), 
farms begin to appear. 

(For FAIRBANKS 371m., see Part II, 6.) 


Columbia Glacier — Seward — Anchorage — Matanuska — Curry — Mt. 
McKiNLEY National Park — Nenana. 


LEAVING VALDEZ, the steamer passes magnificent Columbia 
Glacier, lying at tlie head of Columbia Bay five miles from the 
entrance. It was observed by Whidbey in 1794, and described in 
Vancouver's journal as "a solid body of compact elevated ice." Its 
movement must have been no less spectacular than at the present 
day, for as Whidbey 's party passed the eastern bay "they again heard 
the thunderlike noise and found that it had been produced by the 
falling of the large pieces of ice that appeared to have been very 
recently separated from the mass extending in vast abundance across 
the passage." Capt. A. O. Johansen visited the glacier in 1898 in his 
steamship Dora and made a sounding of fifty fathoms near its face. 
The Harriman Expedition explored and named the glacier the fol- 
lowing year, and Dr. G. K. Gilbert made the first scientific descrip- 
tion of the ice tongue. During the twentieth century it has been 
surveyed and described many times by expeditions of the United 
States Geological Survey and the National Geographic Society. 



This grandfather of glaciers in Prince WiUiam Sound has its source 
on the southern slopes of the Chugach Mountains and rises near the 
base of Florence Peak (ii,i9oalt.), which Ralph Stockman Tarr 
named in 1910 for his wife. Its lower part varies in width from three 
to four miles, and its lower valley walls rise from 2,500 to 3,200 feet. 
It terminates at the sea in a superb ice cliflf slightly over 2V2 miles 
wide, "a beautiful pinnacled and crevassed, snowy white, sinuous 
precipice of ice, rising vertically between 100 and 200 feet above the 
water, and in a less precipitous cascade to 500 feet," Ice pinnacles the 
size and thickness of Bunker Hill monument have been known to 
break off and plunge into the water, causing waves twenty feet high. 
Bergs are continually breaking ofT from the face of the glacier as it 
moves at the rate of from one to two feet a day. East of the main ice 
clifl the glacier terminates on an islet connected with Heather Island 
at low tide. Although the glacier is so vast that the whole city of 
Washington, D.C. has been drawn to scale on a map of a portion of 
its terminal surface with room to spare, it is much less extensive than 
formerly. Only a few thousand years ago Columbia Glacier was a 
small tributary of the great glacier that filled Prince William Sound, 
rearing some 4,000 feet in the air and completely covering the top of 
Heather Island. 

North of the glacier is Mt. Witherspoon (12,030 alt.), in the 
Chugach Mountains, named after D. C. Witherspoon (1891-1921), a 
topographer for the Geological Survey. To the northwest is Mr. 
St. Agnes (13,250 alt.). Under the leadership of Bradford Washburn, 
Harvard instructor in geographical exploration, four young explorers 
succeeded in climbing Mt. St. Agnes on June 19, 1938, reaching the 
summit after a 24-day battle against storms and frigid weather. 

The Columbia Glacier area is a gold-mining district served by 
ski-planes taking ofT from the Valdez mud flats. In 1937 the Ruff and 
Tuff mine struck a four-foot channel estimated to run more than 
fifty dollars to the ton. 

Contrary to popular impression, the use of the plane by prospectors 
has not softened the breed. An episode in the life of one of them is a 
case in point. Sam Gamblin fell heir in 19^6 to a rich claim on 
Columbia Glacier (reputedly running seventy-five dollars to the ton), 
the property of a miner named McDonald, who had lived alone at his 
mine, coming into Valdez once a month for supplies which he paid 


for in free gold. After 1931 McDonald disappeared for good, pre- 
sumably in a glacier crevasse. Gamblin flew to the claim with a tent 
and the necessary supplies, and was put down on an ice-covered lake 
beyond Columbia Glacier on April 3rd. A storm came up, and 
Gamblin dug a ten-foot tunnel into a snow drift, heating this shelter 
with a two-burner gasoline stove. The storm blew for thirteen days. 
When not shoveling snow from the mouth of his tunnel, GambUn 
sat in his sleeping bag and read over and over magazines he had 
brought with him. When the storm had passed, it was spring, and he 
set up his tent and anchored it with a five-gallon can of gasoline. Two 
weeks later came another storm, and Gamblin spent a night holding 
the ridgepole to prevent everything being blown away. The plane 
arrived on schedule to take him back, but was equipped with wheels 
and could not land. The pilot dropped supplies and a note telling 
Gamblin to meet him at Sawmill Bay in a week. This rendezvous 
was across the glacier and down the opposite side of a mountain. 
Gamblin arrived on time, but the plane was six days late. With no 
supplies, Gamblin had to live on mussels — he ate four lard-pails a 
day and still lost weight. At length he arrived at Juneau and legally 
recorded the claim. As for the original owner of the claim, Mc- 
Donald's body may emerge at the face of the glacier any time during 
the next thousand years. 

Leaving Prince William Sound, the steamer passes a number of 
islands, the largest of which, Montague Island, at the entrance, is 
about 42 miles long. 

About 70 miles east of Seward, on the northwest shore of Latouche 
Island, is Latouche (p.o., 339pop.), a trading center for near-by 
canneries and fox farms. The island was so named by Vancouver in 
1794, although Portlock in 1787 had called it Foot Island from its 
fancied resemblance to a human foot. The Office of Indian Affairs 
maintains a school at Chanenga (90 pop.), an island north of 

Resurrection Bay, on the south side of Kenai Peninsula, was 
selected by Baranof as the site of a shipbuilding yard, and here was 
launched the first ship constructed on the western shores of America, 
the Phoenix, in 1794. The principal entrance to Resurrection Bay is 
Harding Gateway, a passage five miles wide between Rugged and 

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Cheval islands named after Warren Gamaliel Harding, first United 
States President to visit Alaska during his term of office. 

At the north end of Resurrection Bay, completely surrounded by 
mountains from 3,000 to 7,000 feet high, is the incorporated town of 
Seward (p.o., 835 pop.), named after William H. Seward, who as 
secretary of state negotiated for the purchase of Alaska. It is the 
terminus of the Alaska Railroad and a gateway to the Interior, besides 
serving as a distributing center for western Alaska and as the out- 
fitting point for big-game hunters on Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak 
Island. Its chief industries are transportation and lumbering, and 
near by is a large though undeveloped farming district. It contains 
some half dozen hotels, as many cafes and restaurants, a number of 
churches and clubs, Federal governmental agencies, the Seward Gen- 
eral Hospital, and modern conveniences usually found only in much 
larger towns in continental United States. 

In 1938 merchandise valued at over $9,000,000 passed through the 
port. A harbor of refuge was authorized in 1930 and 1935, providing 
for breakwaters and a dredged basin 12V2 feet deep, at a cost of 
$173,000. The port is open all year, and even float ice is rare. In addi- 
tion to being served by regular passenger steamers from Seattle, the 
port is the terminus of passenger and freight boats to the Aleutian 
Islands and southwestern Alaska (see Part II, 7, 8). 

The climate is mild, because of the proximity of the Japan current. 
The average winter temperature ranges around 7° below freezing 
(25° F.), the summer temperature, from 50° to 60° during the day. 

In the late eighteenth century Russian officers christened the bay 
Resurrection, or Sunday Bay, and established a shipyard there. After 
their removal to St. Paul on Kodiak Island they kept the bay as head- 
quarters for trips into the Interior. The first American settler in the 
vicinity was Frank Lowell, a trader who moved from Kodiak in 1884. 
The steamer Dora entered the bay in 1896, on her run from Sitka to 
Dutch Harbor. 

In June, 1902, a surveying party landed at the site of what is now 
Seward and began to lay out a route for the projected Alaska Central 
Railroad, to furnish a means of entering the Interior and to tap the 
Matanuska coal fields. In July of the following year the townsite was 
surveyed and named, a wharf constructed, and streets laid out geo- 
metrically, the avenues numbered from one to seven, the streets named 


Monroe, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, and Washington. After 71 miles 
of the railroad line had been built, all coal lands in Alaska were 
withdrawn from entry in 1908, The Alaska Northern Railroad, suc- 
cessor to the Alaska Central, suspended construction in 1909. The 
reaction of the townspeople was later immortalized by Pat O'Cotter, 
a local poet: 

You squandered untold millions 

On the lousy Philippines, 

But you always made Alaskans 

Go and rustle for their beans . . . 

You've never treated us quite right, 

You grabbed away our coal, 

And reserved all our firewood. 

And what we've used we stole. 

You soaked us on our cable tolls. 

But we don't give a damn — 

Even at twenty-eight cents per word 

We're with you, Uncle Sam. 

Late on a Saturday afternoon in August, 191 5, a cable message 
arrived with the news that Seward had been chosen as the terminus 
of the Alaska Railroad. The Seward Gateway was on the streets with 
an extra in half an hour, and real-estate prices mounted by the minute. 
Lots changed hands overnight, property quadrupled in price, new 
stores opened, established merchants enlarged their quarters. Incoming 
steamers were crowded with passengers seeking work, as a new kind 
of stampede for Alaska began. The Alaska Railroad was completed 
in 1923. Since then Seward has been, in the phrase of Rockwell Kent, 
"a tradesmen's town where tradesmen's views prevail. . . . The worst 
of Seward is itself; the best is the strong men that by chance are there 
or that pass through from the great Alaska." 

A golf course has been laid out along the edge of the airplane 
landing field. An excellent motor road leads to Kenai Lake, 20 miles 
distant. Kenai Peninsula itself is about the size of the state of Mary- 
land, is rich in coal, gold, and agricultural lands, and contains game, 
especially mountain sheep and goats, large moose, and three kinds of 
bear. The Seward Gateway, a tri-weekly, and the Seward Weef^ly 
Gateway are published in Seward. 

Near Seward, on Resurrection Bay, is Fox (Renard) Island, where 
Rockwell Kent lived for some time with his son. Its harbor was 


described in his book Wilderness, A Journal of Quiet Adventure in 
Alasl^a, in words that convey the feeUng of many Alaska landscapes: 
"Twin lofty mountain masses flanked the entrance and from the back 
of these the land dipped downwards like a hammock swung between 
them, its lowest point behind the center of the crescent. A clean and 
smooth, dark-pebbled beach went all around the bay, the tide line 
marked with driftwood, gleaming, bleached bones of trees, fantastic 
roots, and worn shredded trunks. Above the beach a band of brilliant 
green and then the deep, black spaces for the forest. So huge was the 
scale of all this that for some time we looked in vain for any habita- 
tion, at last incredulously seeing what we had taken to be boulders 
assume the form of cabins." Here, in a cabin belonging to Olson, "an 
old man, a Swede, bald of head, sensitive of chin, and with good- 
humored eyes," Rockwell Kent and his son lived from August, 1918, 
to March, 1919, swimming, fishing, writing, drawing, listening to 
Alaska tales told by Olson, daily lying naked out-of-doors in a snow- 
drift under the winter sun. 


Trains leave Seward on steamer days early in the morning and arrive 
at Fairbanks late in the afternoon on the following day. Ail through trains 
make a luncheon stop at Anchorage, allowing sufficient opportunity to see 
the town, an overnight stop at Curry, and a luncheon stop the following 
day at Healy, except the special train (motor car) from Anchorage to Fair- 
banks. To figure railroad fare, multiply the mileage by $0.06 and bring 
to nearest o or 5. To figure parlorcar fare, multiply the mileage by $0,007 
and bring to nearest or 5. Special round-trip fares of one fare and a 
third are in effect during summer months. 

Under certain conditions passengers may make a railroad side trip to 
Palmer in Matanuska Valley at Anchorage, and a stopover in Mt. McKin- 
ley National Park at McKinley Park (see "Tours for Round-Trippers"). 
At Nenana connections are made with steamers to points up- and down- 
stream on the Yukon River (see "Tours for Round-Trippers"). 

The railroad is operated the year round. 

Connecting Pacific tidewater at Seward with Interior Alaska at 
Fairbanks, 470.5 miles distant, the Alaska Railroad, owned and 
operated by the United States under the Department of the Interior, 
is a main artery of travel and heavy traffic, serving gold mines, coal 
fields, the Matanuska Valley farming area, and the prosperous towns 


of Anchorage and Fairbanks, It is the only route to Mt. McKinley 
National Park. During the peak of the summer season over a thou- 
sand persons are employed in the various activities of the Une, and 
over three hundred are on the winter payroll. The annual payroll 
amounts to more than a million and a half dollars. 

In 1912 Congress authorized an investigation of transportation 
problems in Alaska, and a report was submitted the following year. 
A second commission was appointed in 1914, which made an examina- 
tion and survey of several routes. The route finally chosen extended 
from Seward north to Nenana, with a branch line to the Matanuska 
coal fields. Subsequently it was decided to extend the main line to 
Fairbanks. Supply bases were established at Seward, Anchorage, and 
Nenana, and construction was immediately started, continuing until 
a golden spike was driven by President Harding at North Nenana 
on July 15, 1923. In that year the Alaska Engineering Commission, 
which had had the services of such men as Alfred H. Brooks, geo- 
logist, Colin M. Ingersoll, consulting railroad engineer, William C. 
Edes of the Southern Pacific Railroad, Col. Frederick Mears of the 
U.S. Army, and Thomas Riggs, Jr., formerly of the Alaska Boundary 
Survey Commission and later governor of Alaska, was dissolved, and 
Lee H. Landis became the first general manager of the railroad. In 
1928 Col. Otto F. Ohlson was appointed manager. Up to June 30, 
1937, the government had expended on the railroad about $73,500,000; 
the sum included the construction of telegraph and telephone lines, 
wharves, hospitals, townsites and dwellings for employees, and the 
operating expenses in excess of revenue. Deficits during the early years 
of operation have been so reduced that in 1937 the net operating profit 
was $9,971 (eliminating operating costs of ocean-going vessels), of 
which the railroad expended $7,449 for an investigation of mineral 
resources affecting railroad tonnage. 

The total length of the line is 550.9 miles, of which 470.55 miles 
are main line, 31.35 branch lines, 2.17 industrial tracks, and 46.83 yard- 
tracks and sidings. 

The JESSIE LEE HOME 2 m. is a mission for Native children. At 3 m. 
the railroad crosses Resurrection River and at 6 m. Salmon River. 
Divide 12m. (694alt.) is the summit of the first crossing of the Kenai 
Mountains. Here water flows on one side into Resurrection Bay on 
the south, and on the other into Lake Kenai on the north. Snow River 


is crossed at 14.5m. At Primrose 18.4m. (457311.) is the lower tip of 
Lake Kenai. At 20m. the road crosses Vichery Creek. Lakeview is a 
post office between Primrose and Lawing. 

La WING 23.3 m. (452 alt.), on Lake Kenai, is headquarters for the 
forest ranger of the Chugach National Forest and a famous center 
for game fishing. The lodge contains a fine collection of pelts and 
mounted specimens of game, and is equipped to accommodate visi- 
tors. From it a launch leaves for Russian River, famous for the num- 
ber and size of its rainbow trout, the largest recorded measuring 
thirty-three inches. Near by are hiking trails and good fishing 
streams. A short distance north of Lawing is Ptarmigan Creek, with 
excellent trout. 

On the right side of the track at Lower Trail Lake 25.7m. is a 
tramway and a road leading up the mountainside to a gold quartz 

At Moose Pass 29.3m. (p.o., 83 pop., 486 alt.) the railroad crosses 
Middle Trail Lake and follows the shore of Upper Trail Lake. Moose 
are hunted throughout this area. Sometimes in winter an animal gets 
caught in the ravines formed by the snow plows and runs ahead of 
the locomotive for miles. At Moose Pass, a mining center, is a road- 
house and a Territorial school. Pontoon planes may land on the 
near-by lakes during the summer. Russian River Rendezvous is a 
roadhouse reached from Moose Pass, built on the site of a Russian 
exile colony. It is a headquarters for sport fishing and maintains cabins 
for big-game hunting. 

From Moose Pass a road leads to the Sunrise and Hope gold- 
mining districts on the south side of Turnagain Arm. In the summer 
of 1895 prospectors found rich diggings on Cook Inlet. News of the 
strike spread to Seattle and San Francisco, and in the spring of 1896 
a gold rush began. Many of the prospectors had only enough money 
to pay their fare, as they believed that in a few days they would pick 
up all the nuggets they could carry. The steamer Laf{me brought 250 
passengers, the Utopia 100, and sailing craft brought many more. 
Sunrise and Hope (p.o., 48 pop. est. 1938) quickly sprang into exist- 
ence. After a brief attempt to stake claims, most of the 2,500 gold 
rushers sold their outfits at bargain prices and took passage home. A 
few claims staked by experienced prospectors produced fair results 
the first season. By November there were left at Hope about 80 set- 


tiers, and at Sunrise about 150. A parly of three men attempted to 
cross over to Prince William Sound early in the spring of 1897 to put 
mail aboard the steamer Dora on her first trip Outside. A blizzard 
caught the party, two disappeared, and the third, named Blackstone, 
was found frozen to death with his dog on what is now Blackstone 
Bay. Another party, led by L. L. Bales, an experienced guide, safely 
arrived at the Yukon River overland from Portage Bay. Among the 
gold seekers wandering over the Interior was W. A. Dickey, who 
penetrated far up the Susitna River in 1896 and returned to Sunrise 
with a wonderful tale of an immensely high and magnificently rugged 
mountain. Old-timers refused to believe him, so he returned the fol- 
lowing year and named the peak Mt. McKinley, after the president, 
news of whose election had just arrived in Cook Inlet. When the 
Klondike strike was made, the rush at Cook Inlet w^as forgotten in 
the excitement of 1898. Today the population of the district is sparse 
and scattered. 

At 33 m. the road begins to follow Trail Creek, along which are 
many beaver dams and lakes created by the dams. At 44 m. is a 
splendid view of Trail Glacier, Trail Creek, and Trail Canyon. 
Grandview 44.9 m. (1,063 alt.) i^ ^^^ summit of the second crossing of 
the Kenai Mountains. A beaver dam and house are on the right side 
of the track at 46 m. Over a bridge 104 feet high the railroad crosses 
the west fork of Placer River at 47.8 m. Here, for over three miles, 
runs the famous Alaska Railroad Loop, consisting of two spirals, one 
of which is a complete circle, on which the track runs along the moun- 
tain sides, over high bridges, trestles, and through tunnels and snow- 
sheds, forming a complete loop over Placer River. The winding track 
is visible at one point in four places, and here a short stop is made to 
observe it. At 49 m. is BARTLErr Glacier, and to the left and above, 
Deadman's Glacier. At 51m. the train dives through a tunnel, and 
at 51.8m. the Placer River is crossed for the sixth time on a bridge 
78 feet high. During the next one and one-half miles the railroad 
passes through six tunnels in following Placer River Canyon. The 
open timber structures built over the track are snowsheds to prevent 
winter snow slides from covering the roadbed. Spencer Glacier at 
52.7m. ends within 300 yards of the track. 

Portage 64m. (33alt.) is the head of Turnagain Arm of Cook 
Inici. Here the tide is second only to thai in the Bay of Fundy. In 


1778 Captain Cook entered Cook Inlet in search of the northwest 
passage. Forced to return at the head of the inlet, he named it Turn- 
again River. Vancouver explored the inlet in 1794, established the 
"river" as an arm of the sea, and named the inlet after Cook, who 
had modestly left a blank space for the name. From Portage, Portage 
Glacier is visible. Prince William Sound is only 12 miles distant from 
this point. 

For most of the rest of the way to Anchorage the railroad follows 
the shore of Turnagain Arm. At 64.7m. is Twentymile River, with 
TwENTYMiLE Glacier in the distance, and at 70m. Kern Creek. 
GiRDwooD 74.8m. (p.o., 40 alt., 30 pop. est. 1938) is an old construction 
and mining settlement and the starting point for the Crow Creek gold 
district. Bird Creek is at 86.6m. From Rainbow 93.5m. (63 alt.), Sun- 
rise and Hope are directly across Turnagain Arm. The train follows 
Turnagain Arm to Potter 100.6 m. (32alt.), where Turnagain Arm 
empties into Cook Inlet. West across Cook Inlet is the Alaska Range, 
and on a clear day Mt. Iliamna (io,oi7alt.) can be seen 145 miles to 
the southwest. Chester Creek is crossed at 112.8 m. 

Anchorage 114.3m. (p.o., 3oalt., 2,277pop.), an incorporated town 
at the head of Cook Inlet, is the location of the repair shops and 
general offices of the Alaska Railroad. It is a center for quartz and 
placer gold mining, coal mining, fishing, canning, and some fur farm- 
ing and trapping. The Anchorage Times, a daily newspaper, is pub- 
lished here. 

Anchorage was founded in 1914 as a railroad construction camp. 
In 1915 the first sales of town lots were held. Water sold at five cents 
a bucket, and the camp garbage was dumped on the outgoing tide 
once every twenty-four hours. Finally, evacuation of the temporary 
town of Anchorage was completed, and the 3,000 inhabitants, reported 
a contemporary newspaper, were "transferred to their new quarters 
on the government townsite. The process of moving has been pro- 
gressing steadily for the past three weeks and all available teams and 
wagons have been busy in this exodus at the rate of two dollars per 
hour. The new site of Anchorage is beginning to take on the appear- 
ance of a town. The buildings going up are of light construction. 
There are many tent houses still in existence. A temporary water 
supply is installed and a permanent system of waterworks is to be 
begun at once." A reserve district was estabhshed beyond the town- 


site for laborers. "This is mostly for the benefit of the foreign laborer, 
the so-called 'bohunk' class," wrote a correspondent of the Seattle 
Post-Intelligencer, "of which there is a large number employed on the 
Alaska Railroad construction. Men of this class do not invest in town 
lots, and it is considered desirable to keep them in the country for 
future railway work." Common laborers were paid thirty-seven and 
one-half cents an hour and skilled workers fifty cents per hour — smaller 
wages than Alaskans were used to getting. A strike occurred in 1916, 
and as a result minimum wages were raised to forty-five cents an 
hour. By 1917 the town had grown to an estimated population of 
nearly 6,000 and was governed by a manager appointed by the Alaska 
Engineering Commission, John F. Coffey, assisted by an advisory 
board elected by the people. In 1920 the Federal government re- 
linquished its control of town affairs and granted patents to lots sold 
five years before. An election was held, a common council chosen, 
and the decision made to incorporate as a town. 

A network of excellent auto roads connects Anchorage with near- 
by farms and mines. The Anchorage-Palmer Highway (bus service), 
50 miles long, connects the town with the important farming area of 
Palmer (see below) and passes over the Knik River bridge, the longest 
steel highway-bridge in Alaska, 2,007 ^^^^ long, weighing 550 tons, 
and costing $192,000. The Anchorage Loop, 19.5 miles, serves farms 
and homesteads northeast of Anchorage. The Spenard Road, 5 miles, 
connects Anchorage with Lake Spenard, a plane-base and summer 
resort. This road is connected with Lake Otis Road, 3 miles, by Fire- 
wood Lane, about i mile. The Airport Road, 3 miles, connects the 
town with the airport, Merrill Field, and continues to dairies and 
homesteads. The Radio Road, 0.25 mile, leads to Government Hill, 
location of the receiving station of the keystation of the Alaska Com- 
munications System. The transmitters are located 7 miles from the 
city, and both are operated by remote control from the center of town, 
where there is also a radio broadcasting station, KFQD. This station 
is heard all over western Alaska, and is so popular that Eskimo babies 
are frequently named after its announcer. Excellent tennis courts are 
available in the city; on the edge of the city is a 9-hole golf course. 

Anchorage is the headquarters of the famous Willow Creek gold 
district and an outfitting point for hunting parties bound for Tus- 
tumena Lake, Kasilof River on Kenai Peninsula, Rainy Pass and 


Chickaloon districts, famous for moose, sheep, goats, and brown, black, 
and grizzly bear. 

A few miles east of Anchorage are the Chugach Mountains, the 
oldest rocks in the district. They are of two types: one, a sedimentary 
rock that was deposited in the sea, and the other, a volcanic rock 
composed of lava flows and ash beds similar to those around many of 
the present volcanoes. The volcanoes that formed the volcanic rock 
of the Chugach Mountains have long since been obliterated, and their 
locations are not known. Millions of years were necessary for the rocks 
of the present Chugach Range to form, become consolidated, and 
finally lift up very slowly into the present mountains. As these rocks 
were pushed up, streams formed from the rainfall slowly cut into 
them, carving out valleys and moving the material seaward to be 
deposited again. 

In the Eocene period, swamps were numerous and extensive, 
vegetation flourished in this part of Alaska and formed great thickets 
in what is now the Susitna Valley, Knik Arm, and Cook Inlet. 
Occasionally, streams from the mountains covered up the accumulated 
vegetation with a few to several hundred feet of silt, sand, and gravel. 
Again vegetation would grow profusely. This period marks the 
formation of the coalbearing rocks that are now seen in the Susitna 
and Matanuska valleys and Cook Inlet. The climate was much warmer 
than at present, but yet not entirely tropical. Palm leaves indicative 
of a sub-tropical climate like that of southern United States, and 
sequoias, like those from northern California, are found in the coal 

Eventually, with the uplift of the swamps, the coal-forming period 
drew to a close. The coal formations were then subjected to a long 
pressure; they became consolidated and were folded. Where the pres- 
sure was greatest, the vegetable matter was ultimately changed into 
bituminous and even anthracite coal, as in Matanuska Valley. Where 
the force was less intense, the change was not so great, and lignite 
coal, as on Cook Inlet, was the result. 

After the uplift and folding of the coal beds, the drainage was 
somewhat similar to that of the present time. Cook Inlet, Knik, and 
Turnagain Arms, however, were not in existence. Instead, the Susitna 
River flowed down what is now Cook Inlet and emptied into the sea 
near Kodiak Island. Near Point Possession it was joined by a river 


that occupied a valley which is now Turnagain Arm, and the Knik 
and Matanuska rivers flowed directly into Susitna River. 

The next known page in the geological history of Anchorage, 
and probahly the most spectacular, was the glacial period, or Ice Age, 
the imprint of which is still seen in almost all of Alaska. What 
brought about this ice age is conjectural — perhaps because of a colder 
climate or increased snowfall in winter, the snow remaining in the 
mountains after the summer's melting became greater year by year. 
As the snow increased in thickness, it was compressed into ice; as the 
ice became thicker in the mountains, it slowly moved down the 
slopes into the valleys, because of the ever-increasing pressure behind. 

The movement of the ice was slow and irresistible, similar to that 
of partly cooled tar down a slope of low angle. From all of the 
mountains such ice streams were formed. Down the valleys of Ship 
Creek, Eagle River, Turnagain Arm, down the Knik and Matanuska 
valleys, the ice streams of glaciers moved. All finally joined with a 
similar ice movement in the Susitna Valley to form one mighty 
glacier that moved down the present Cook Inlet as far south as 
Kodiak Island. 

As the glaciers moved down the valleys, they ground and carried 
the rock in a manner similar to that of the present streams. They 
smoothed ridges and left scars on valley walls, which are visible even 
today. The face of the Chugach Mountains indicates that the ice was 
over 3,000 feet thick in the vicinity of Anchorage. Susitna Mountain, 
over 4,000 feet high, west of Anchorage, was probably entirely covered 
with ice. 

Again the climate changed; it grew warmer, so that, year by year, 
some of the ice melted and the front of the glacier receded. Today 
the glaciers remain only in the mountains, and with a few exceptions 
are still retreating. The melting ice, coming from the front of the 
retreating glacier, eroded, transported, and deposited the rock debris 
which the advancing glacier had picked up. So came into being the 
gravel benches on Cook Inlet and Knik Arm, upon which Anchorage 
is located. This gravel is sometimes several hundred feet thick, and in 
most places rests directly on coal-bearing rocks. 

Occasionally large pieces of ice from the retreating glacier were left 
stranded and subsequently were covered with gravel. Slowly melting, 
they eventually left depressions in the otherwise flat surface of the 
gravel plain. One such depression can be seen on the Anchorage golf 


links. There are many north of Whitney, and they are still more 
numerous in certain sections of the Matanuska Valley. 

Today the streams coming down from the mountains are slowly 
dissecting and eroding the gravel benches around Anchorage, aided 
by the high tides, which slowly undercut the blufls facing Knik 
Arm and Cook Inlet. All of the streams entering Knik Arm, particu- 
larly the glacial streams such as the Knik, Matanuska, and Eagle 
rivers, are carrying and depositing silt, sand, and gravel. Knik Arm 
is slowly becoming wider and shallower. Eventually, though not for 
many thousand years, Knik and Turnagain Arms will become entirely 
silted up, and only rivers will flow through the area to empty into 
Cook Inlet, which will undergo the same process. 

Some of the silt carried by the Knik and Matanuska rivers is 
deposited in time of high water on the river bars. The prevaiUng 
down-valley winds pick up this silt and deposit it in the vicinity of 
Palmer. So the fertile soil of the Matanuska Valley, in some places 
twenty feet deep, has been built up. This process is still going on, 
as those who have witnessed the frequent dust storms in this area 
will readily testify. 

Although Anchorage is the center of a number of outlying mining 
districts, no mining is done in the immediate vicinity. Discoveries 
of gold, silver, and lead in the Chugach Mountains to the east indicate 
that commercial deposits may yet be found. The gravel benches 
furnish a valuable supply of sand and gravel for local building pur- 
poses. Clay suitable for common brick and tile also occurs in the 
immediate vicinity. Near Potter is a bed of limestone that may some 
day be utiUzed locally. In a few of the neighboring lakes are small 
deposits of calcareous marl, which has a potential value as land plaster, 
for reducing the acidity of agricultural soils. 

Underneath the gravel benches of Knik Arm and Cook Inlet, and 
occurring at the surface in some places, are coal beds. Although the 
coal is of low rank (lignite and sub-bituminous), it has a potential 
value for local domestic use. It is probable that from coal such as this 
the future fuel supply of the world will come; rapid progress in the 
improvement of the hydrogenation process has resulted in the produc- 
tion of a half ton of fuel oil and gasoline from one ton of such coal. 

Tyonek (p.o., 78 pop.) is on the east shore of Cook Inlet, about 
50 miles from Anchorage. This was once part of the Moquaukie 


Indian Reservation and a Native school is maintained here. Susitna 
(p.o., 39pop.) on the Susitna River is north of Tyonek and about 
65 miles northwest of Anchorage. 

At Whitney 119.1 m. (222alt.) are power and cable lines running 
due east on the left to a powerful radio station operated by remote 
control from Anchorage. Eagle River, 127.5 m., is a glacial stream. 
Eagle River Canyon is spanned by a steel viaduct bridge 69 feet high. 
At 140.8 m. is Eklutna River. 

Eklutna 141.2m. (p.o., 5oalt., i58pop.) is the site of the Eklutna 
Industrial School, operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for Native 
children, with an enrollment of over one hundred boarding students, 
both boys and girls, who come from as far north as Wainwright, as 
far south as Juneau, and as far west as the Aleutian Islands. Originally 
located at Tyonek on Cook Inlet, the school was moved to Eklutna 
in 1924. The classes are so arranged that each pupil spends a half day 
in academic studies and a half day in industrial work. The academic 
work includes commercial courses, music, and standard grade and 
high school subjects; the industrial subjects are sewing, ivory carving, 
metal work, mechanics, carpentry, and farming. In addition the 
students are taught hygiene and nursing. Regular gymnasium classes 
are held both for boys and for girls, and the students enjoy many 
summer and winter sports. The library contains about eight hundred 
volumes. A department of the school is maintained for blind Native 
children, where Braille, academic subjects, typing, and arts and crafts 
are taught. The school is self-governed through dormitory clubs 
organized around the three dormitories on the campus — two for boys 
and one larger one for girls. When the salmon begin to run the boys 
take turns going to the fish camp about 15 miles away, where they 
catch many salmon for winter use. The girls gather and can the wild 
berries. The upkeep of the school and all domestic work and cleaning 
are done by the students themselves, student inspectors seeing that 
the work is well done and finished at the proper time. Most of the 
students return to their native villages after graduation, where they 
carry on and teach others the arts and subjects they have learned. 

Reed 142.:; m. (:55alt.) is the station of the hydroelectric plant that 
supplies power to the city of Anchorage and the Alaska Railroad 
repair shops. Knik River at 146.4 m. and Matanuska River at 148.3m. 
are glacier streams. Matanuska 150.7m. (p.o., 36alt., 33opop. in 1930) 


is the center of a large agricultural district. Its name is a corruption 
of the Russian for "copper river." Near here the University of Alaska 
maintains an agricultural experiment station. From this point 27 miles 
of branch line connect with Palmer, Moose Creek, Premier, Jonesville, 
and Eska.— bituminous coal regions. 

Palmer (p.o., 920 pop. in 1930), 6 miles from Matanuska on the 
branch railroad line, 50 miles from Anchorage via the highway, is 
the center of the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation, admin- 
istered by the Federal Department of the Interior, but until Sept. 3d, 
1938, operated by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The 
colony consists of approximately 170 families from the drought- 
stricken areas of the middlewestern states. The Matanuska Valley 
Farmers Cooperating Association was incorporated in 1936 under 
Territorial law. As rapidly as possible various activities of the com- 
munity are being purchased by the cooperative from the Federally 
controlled corporation. 

Palmer, in appearance not unlike a western county seat, has a 
railroad station, a post office, a weekly newspaper, the Valley Settler, 
restaurants and stores, and a model community center. The three-story 
community center includes a large combination community hall and 
school building, hospital, trading post, warehouse, dormitory, offices, a 
power plant, and the residences of corporation officials. A creamery is 
in operation and preparations are being made to install a vegetable 
cannery. Plans are being made to place the entire colony on an inde- 
pendent footing as soon as possible. Each colonist has a farm of from 
40 or more acres, selected by lot. The colony covers 10,375 'icres. 

In May, 1935, colonists from the relief rolls of northern Minnesota, 
Wisconsin, and Michigan bundled off the train onto a wind-swept 
flat. Living in a congested tent city, the colonists, many of whom had 
never before been away from the county in which they were born, 
and some of whom were already homesick, set out to clear the land 
for their future homes, their pay calculated in accordance with relief 
scales current in Alaska. Lots were drawn and the colonists financed 
in the purchase of land, the construction of houses, barns, and other 
necessary buildings, fencing, livestock and equipment, furniture, hard- 
ware, and groceries until they became self-supporting. Equipment 
for clearing land and transportation facilities were provided by the 
Federal Emergency Relief Administration, to be liquidated by the use 


of rental charges on a per hour or mileage basis. Debts incurred by 
the colonists were made payable over a period of thirty years, accrued 
interest at three percent becoming due and payable at, or before, the 
end of the third year. 

In July scarlet fever, measles, and chickenpox broke out among 
the colonists' children. Recognizing a common danger, colonists, car- 
penters, laborers, and officials alike hurriedly began to reconstruct the 
community hall into a field hospital. At 2 a.m. on July 12 a colonist 
child suffering from scarlet fever was admitted from his tent home as 
the first patient of the Matanuska Valley Hospital. Plans were drawn 
for a permanent hospital building, and in the meantime, in a building 
heated by four red-hot stoves and ventilated by enormous cracks, 
nurses carried on under trying conditions. On November 30, patients 
were transferred to the new hospital building, containing an X-ray 
apparatus, a laboratory, an operating room, and — a very important 
feature — a separate maternity ward, delivery room and nursery. Babies 
arrived at a rate that set a record for Alaska — in two years, 120 
children were born in the colony. 

Meanwhile colonists slashed timber, cleared moss and undergrowth 
from the land, and Diesel "cats" growled their way over the tracts, 
pulling stumps. Barns, houses, and outbuildings were erected accord- 
ing to plans drawn up in advance. Some of the more skilled workers 
found they could work for the corporation and thus hire more labor 
done than they could accomplish themselves. George Connors, of 
Tract 132, drew eight dollars a day as a finish carpenter, and with 
his w^ages hired two men five days a week at sixty cents an hour to 
clear his land. Others sold the milk of their cows to the families of 
the administrative staff, hospital, and commissary. Skilled truck 
farmers devoted their attention to vegetables, raising nine tons of 
potatoes on a single acre, cabbages weighing thirty pounds, six-inch 
pea pods with peas like small marbles. Oat-and-pea hay, a combination 
developed by the Experiment Station, ran almost three tons to the 
acre; and wheat threshed forty-three bushels to the acre. 

By the fall of 1936, at the end of their first full season, Alaska's 
new farmers looked out over fertile fields from barns bulging with 
crops. Behind them lay eighteen months' hard work; ahead of them 
were years of more hard work. There were some success stories, and 
some failures. The wails of disgusted colonists who quit and made 
way for newcomers from the list of thousands of applicants were 


picked up Dy papers in ihe States and broadcast to the nation. Some 
farmers cleared their first year, with lots, houses, and barns, owing 
the corporation as little as $1,500. At the other extreme were colonists 
who owed the corporation anywhere from $6,000 to $14,000. The com- 
plaints, though magnified by the press in the United States, had a 
solid justification. Eighteen tractors could not work on two hundred 
tracts at once; the sawmill could not saw timber fast enough to 
supply boards for houses and barns; transportation facilities were 
inadequate. Most of the wails were good healthy ones, for while 
uttering them the colonists dynamited stumps as they waited their 
turn with the tractors, slashed overgrowth and dug foundations by 
hand, clubbed together on transportation. At the end of 1936 children 
were roller-skating over streets through which they had plodded in 
mud, Palmer had grown into a flourishing town, and readers were 
goodnaturedly overlooking wrong font letters in the first issue of the 
Matanuska Valley Pioneer. The colonists' newspaper was printed on 
a ramshackle press fed thirty years before by Dan Kennedy of Anchor- 
age, on which had been printed some of John Frame's political dyna- 
mite, and still bearing an old shipping label, N. L. Sherpy, Skagway, 
Alast{a, via Tacoma wharf. The most recent incident in its colorful 
career had been its transfer in a gambling debt to Jim Virdin at 
Ketchikan, who sold it to Jack Allman, editor of the Pioneer. A church 
was built, 4-H clubs and the Future Farmers of America organized, 
and Anchorage residents began to complain to their grocers that they 
couldn't get enough Matanuska vegetables and milk and butter 
marked with a trade name new to Alaska, "Matanuska Maid." Less 
than a score of colonists had died, and babies had arrived on the 
average of once a week. By 1938 Palmer and its immediate vicinity 
had electricity, telephone, an excellent road system, a post office, a 
garage and farm-machinery shed, a hatchery, a beauty shop and 
barber, a modern hospital, a sewerage system, and several stores and 
restaurants. A lodge has recently been opened to accommodate tourists. 

The full story of Matanuska has not yet been recorded. But let the 
stories of two of the colonists speak for themselves. 

Lawrence Dreghorn, "Scotty" to his friends, comes from Wol- 
verine, Michigan, and was awarded Tract 175 in the original drawing. 
Scotty was 43, high in the ages of the original colony group, and with 
Grace, his wife, there were eight in the family: William, the oldest 
boy, 14; Gordon, 12; Mary, 11; Lawrence, Jr., 9; Hamish, lYi. A 


baby girl was born, October i8, 1936. Scotty was born at Peterhead, 
Aberdeenshire, on the east coast of Scotland, and you'd never doubt 
the fact once you heard him roll his r-r-r-rs. There is still a lot of 
thistledown on his tongue. He came to America as a lad and was 
naturalized when he attained his majority. He went back to Scotland 
for a visit, and when the war broke out joined up, serving with the 
"kilties" in a regiment of the Gordon Highlanders, of the green and 
yellow tartans. 

Scotty isn't very large, but he's physically a tough specimen. He 
had to be to go through four years of battling in France, interspersed 
with campaigns in both Italy and Egypt. Proof of a grateful govern- 
ment's appreciation of Scotty's soldiering can be seen in the medals 
he is entitled to wear — six of them. Scotty does not have to look at the 
medals to remember he was in the war, though. A shrapnel wound 
is a constant reminder of those tough years. 

After the war was over Scotty came back to America. He was 
trying to make a living with dairy cows and a raspberry patch when 
the chance came to sign up for the colonization project here. It 
didn't take the Dreghorns long to make up their minds. 

Once on his tract the plans for a new home began to take definite 
shape. He has built a comfortable house, a barn, hog house, and other 
buildings, and by the end of 1936 had twenty-six acres plowed and a 
total of thirty cleared. His, like most of the others in the Butte section, 
is an eighty-acre tract. 

His plans were for dairying. He bought only three cows, the 
cheapest the corporation had to sell. This wasn't because he was 
Scotch, but because Scotty can tell a good milker when he sees one 
even if she is poor and badly run down after a long ocean trip. He 
soon had his stock in fine shape, and the first year raised three calves. 
With Donald Parks, a neighbor, he was the first to attempt commer- 
cial production of cream. They shipped to Anchorage early in the 
history of the colony, but the venture was a failure because of trans- 
portation costs. When the creamery opened he realized on his invest- 
ment in cows, and supplied the hospital, dormitory, and a number of 
staff families with milk. William brought it to town with him on the 
school bus each morning. 

Scotty sees independence in his new farm and says, "Just try and 
run me out of this country!" 

Vanishing Alaska 


.LASKA today has numerous relics of the Russian 
America Company — fortifications, commercial buildings, weapons, 
domestic utensils — which are being preserved for their historic interest. 
In the seventy years preceding the purchase of Alaska by the United 
States the company Christianized many Indian tribes and taught them 
the rites of the Eastern church. This form of worship persists today 
through most of the region in which the Russian influence was felt, 
and is the only living remnant of the Russian occupation. 

Before the arrival of the white man Alaska was an Indian country 
with at least four easily distinguishable groups of people, each with its 
characteristic mode of life. The Indians, as a people, have remained, 
but Indian culture has practically disappeared. Early, first-hand, ac- 
counts of this culture differ according to the preconceptions of the 
observer. Eighteenth century cosmopolitanism supposed that the people 
were gentry, though not British, while nineteenth century Darwinism 
supposed that they were something rather early in the process which 
produced Queen Victoria. The twentieth century knows little more 
about these people than is revealed in their arts and crafts, numerous 
examples of which have survived the period of neglect and are being 
preserved in museums and national monuments. 

The first American period in Alaska belonged to the pioneer, the 
lonely prospector and trapper. Father Duncan's kitchen at Metlakatla 
is typical of this life, which is rapidly passing into history with the 
Russian and Indian periods which preceded it. 

Russian Blockhouse, SI (/{a 

Russian Church and Graucs, lil^lutna 

St. Michael's Cathedral, Sitka 

Aleuts and Ilaida (Coo/^'s Voyages) 

The Haida {Bureau of American Ethnology) 


a^^ Hfl8»-^^l£r 

ab(jve: Eil^iDKj Mii.-k^, jii/iciiu Museum 
below: Eagle. West Prince of Wales 

above: Es/(^tnw BusJ^ct, juncau Museum 
below: Bear, Kasnan National Monu- 

K x-",s.^ 








Entrance to Sit/{ii Monitnient 


Father Duncan's Kitchen, Metlaf^atla 


Let Mrs. Victor Johnson, another colonist, tell her story in her 
own words. 

"This morning as I strained the pail of rich Guernsey milk from 
our cow, I thought of June, 1935, just after we had arrived in the 
valley. Milk was at a premium and what little could be obtained was 
reserved for the families having small children. Never having lived 
where fresh milk could not be obtained, I had never learned to use 
canned milk except in cooking. For a long time very little cooked 
cereal, which ordinarily forms the main part of our breakfast, was 
served in my tent. Then the cows arrived. What a drawing we had! 
How pleased I was with the little pail of milk our cow gave morning 
and night! True, it was only a couple of quarts, and she dried up in 
August, but how good it tasted while it lasted! 

"We set some hens this spring. For weeks we tended them, seeing 
that they had food and water and left the nest for exercise. Then the 
shells began to pip, and fuzzy yellow chicks came out, downy ducks, 
and geese, and shy little turkeys. How cunning they all were! How 
does a little duck with a chicken mother know that ducks eat a bite 
of food and then run to the water dish.^* 

"There is a little Guernsey calf frolicking in the pen this minute. 
At first she was so wobbly and awkward. Now she is a little beauty. 
She holds her head up to have her neck scratched, and she knows 
what is what when a pail of milk comes her way. 

"Yesterday was Club Day. Work was hurried through in the 
morning, and probably some of it was left undone. Lunch was set out 
for the family at home, and mother took a bowl of salad, a box of 
sandwiches or a cake, and went to Club. As many other women as 
could get away for the day were there. Housekeeping ideas were 
exchanged; sewing demonstrations and short cuts, discussed. I learned 
how to put on a minute-and-a-half patch for overalls. How many 
hours since my marriage have I patched overalls and other work 
clothes! I never thought of such a quick, simple way to put on a 
patch. Noon came, lunch was served, cafeteria style. The coffee was 
hot and good. Friends gathered in twos and threes, and visited over 
their plates. I noticed that the gowns were just as neat, hair cuts just 
as trim, and faces as fresh as any ordinary group of women in similar 
gatherings anywhere. 

"Farm life in the Matanuska Valley lonesome and monotonous? 
No indeed! Full and satisfying? Yes, most surely." 


Last of all, listen to Sourdough Sam, emphatically not a colonist. 
Sam has a pretty good slant on all this activity in the Matanuska 
Valley. He has lived there for years, but just about a month before 
there was anything said about colonizing the district, Sam headed 
back into the hills at the head of Chickaloon to do a little prospecting 
on a creek he and Tex Cobb knew about. He went alone except for 
his old dog, Bum; and he never saw a soul till he returned last Sep- 
tember. You should get him to tell you about it. You'll recognize Sam 
if you see him around camp. He's tall and straight as a birch sapling, 
and as tough as a piece of Nigaluk whalebone in spite of his seventy 
years. His hair is white and curls a little over the collar of his shirt. 
He has a somewhat scraggly white moustache that is a bit tobacco- 
stained in the middle. His eyes have the clearness of glacier ice, but 
they are not hard. If you see him, go right up and talk to him. 

When Sam left for the hills there were a few scattered families and 
only two miles of graveled road. When he came hiking back he 
expected to find things just the same. He was coming down an old 
Indian trail near Cottonwood Lake, right near Swanson's place, when 
he suddenly stumbled on a fine graveled road that shouldn't have 
been there at all. 

Just then a big staff sedan — Colonel Hunt's — bore down on him 
with the horn wide open. Sam jumped about twenty feet, 

"Wa'n't nothin' like that 'round here when we left," he remarked 
to Bum, The dog kept close to Sam's heels as they left the road for a 
trail leading off toward Charlie Marino's. 

In less than a mile Sam ran into a big 40-horse Diesel caterpillar 
clearing land, "Wa'n't nothin' like that here, neither," he reminded 

Sam shook his head, skirted the machine, and ran smack dab into 
a great big seven-room frame house all freshly painted. Old Sam can 
take a shock, but he staggered under that one. The blame house was 
standing right on the very spot where he'd killed a moose the fall 
before. And when he bumped into a well rig chugging its way down 
to water he looked at it with startled eyes. "And I ain't had a drink 
in six months," he said to Bum. 

Down the road they went past Camp No, 2, past slashers and 
building crews at work, past Harry Sears and his gang with their 
big caterpillar-drawn potato digger. It was very strange to Sam. By 


all rights he would have been lucky to have met a soul on the trail, 
and an auto whizzing past would have been a real event. 

At last they came to Matanuska, and the litde town was the first 
thing in the valley he really recognized. He dropped into Phil Allen's 
place, but he didn't have much to say. He knew that marshals 
usually take charge of people who imagine they see things that don't 
exist, and there was Joe Hofman with his gold badge all ashine. 

He studied out the whole situation through a pint of rye. It wasn't 
possible that this could be the same Matanuska Valley he had left 
only six months before; but here he was ... all these strange people 
on the road! All this building and excitement! He couldn't be 
dreaming, could he? 

At last he decided to take the bull by the horns. He'd find out 
whether he'd missed too many boats or not. "Say," he demanded o£ 
Phil, "what in hell's been going on around here anyway?" 

Phil has a sense of humor. "Going on? Why, nothing much. Val- 
ley has grown a lot since you left here ten years ago, hasn't it, Sam?" 

"TEN YEARS!" You could have heard Sam clear out across the 
Knik flats. He stuck a fresh pint in his pocket and, avoiding Joe, 
strode rapidly off toward his cabin up by Vic Morgan's. 

"Ten years!" He repeated it over to himself many times. At last 
he turned to the dog. 

"Ten years! It don't seem possible, Bum! Yet I hearn of a feller 
oncet that slept longer 'n that. Yep! Feller named Wip van Rinkle." 

Wasilla Lake 159m. has excellent fishing. Wasilla 159.8m. (p.o., 
339alt., 6oopop. est. 1938) was named after a chief of the Knik 
Indians, and is perhaps a corruption of the Russian given name 
"Vasili." The town is the central point of 176 miles of good roads that 
reach from the head of Knik Arm through the Matanuska Valley 
agricultural district to the gold mines of Willow Creek and the coal 
mines of Moose Creek. From Wasilla good fishing spots are reached 
by boat or automobile. One-fourth of a mile north of Wasilla is a 
large mink ranch, and at 174.2 m. is Little Susitna River. From Nancy 
180.7m. (236alt.), Rainy Pass trail, discovered and named by Brooks 
in 1902, leads through the McKinley Range to the Iditarod and Kus- 
kokwim mining districts. Lake Nancy with its beaver dam is on the 
left. At 183.2 m. on clear days is a good view of Mt. McKinley. From 
Willow 185.7m. (232alt.) a road leads to Willow Creek, 187.1m., an 

278 THE LAST I- R O N r I E R 

excellent trout stream in the heart of a gold mining district. Little 
Willow Creek 190.5m. is an excellent trout-fishing stream. At 199m. 
is Kashwitna River and at 212.6m., Montana Crock, another excellent 
trout stream. At 224.3m. is a panoramic view of Mt. McKinley (20,300 
alt.), Mt. Hunter (i4,96oalt.), and Mt. Foraker (i7,oooalt.), and, 
further to the west, of Mt. Russell (ii,6ooalt.) and Mt. Dall (9,000 
alt.). Talkeetna 226.7m. (p.o., 354alt., i25pop. est. 1938), its name 
said to mean "river of plenty," at the meeting point of the glacier-fed 
Talkeetna, Susitna and Chulitna rivers, is the starting point for 
gold-mining operations in the Cache Creek country. There is a good 
airport in town. Mt. McKinley is visible from this point, and fre- 
quently from here on. At 241.7m. is Lane Creek, near which are many 
beaver dams. Petersville (p.o.) and Yentna are villages west of the 
railroad. East of the railroad and slightly north of Curry is Lucky- 
shot (p.o.). 

At Curry 248.5m. (p.o., 546alt., 91 pop.), the halfway point be- 
tween the coast and the Interior, passengers spend the night in the 
Curry Hotel, operated by the Alaska Railroad. The hotel has excellent 
modern accommodations for 150 guests. After a day of traveling on 
the Alaska Railroad, most people after nodding over dinner are glad 
to hurry upstairs to bed and fall instantly asleep to the murmur of 
the Susitna River. There is nothing else to do, anyway, as there is 
neither bar nor library — not even a newsstand. The wildest extreme in 
excitement ofTered is a walk across the suspension footbridge spanning 
the Susitna up a trail on the opposite bank through a series of berry 

Next morning, just north of Gold Creek 263.2m. (731 alt.), the 
railroad crosses the Susitna River, and at 269.2m. is the second of 
four crossings of Indian River, where there is excellent grayling fish- 
ing. From this point the railroad passes through a canyon for about 
a mile. At 270.2m., on the right, is a beaver dam and lake. From 
Ci-iuLiTNA (1280 alt.) 273.8m. to 279m. are a series of splendid views 
of Mt. McKinley. The railroad reaches its closest point to Mt. Mc- 
Kinley, 46 miles distant, at 279m. There are higher mountains in the 
Himalayas and the Andes, but travelers say these seem lower than 
Mt. McKinley, which rises abruptly to a great height. The summit of 
the first Alaska Range is at Hurricane 281.4m. (i,688alt.). Hurricane 
Gulch at 284.2m. is spanned by a steel bridge 918 feet long and 296 


feet above the creek. On the left is Chuhtna River, crossed at 286 m. 
by a suspension bridge used by prospectors. Honolulu Creek is at 
287.7m. Honolulu 288.7m. (1,456 alt.), is the beginning of trails to the 
Broad Pass mining district. Near here are many beaver dams, most 
of them on the left. At 292.3 m. is crossed the east fork of the Chulitna 
River. A trail also leads from Colorado 297.1m. (i,954alt.) to Broad 
Pass. The middle fork of the Chulitna, close to its headwaters, is 
crossed at 305.7 m. At 310 m. is the summit of the continental divide 
(2,363 alt.), the lowest railroad pass in the entire Rocky Mountain 
chain. Near here is Summit Lake, draining both to the Bering Sea 
and the Pacilic watersheds. At Cantwell 319.5m. (p.o., 2,2i2alt.) the 
descent begins, and the railroad follows Jack River to Windy, at the 
confluence of Jack and Nenana rivers. Cantwell, named after Lieut. 
John C. Cantwell, who explored the Kobuk River region in 1884-5, is 
the starting point for the Valdez Creek gold-mining district, about 
50 miles distant. On the left is a landing field for planes that freight 
supplies to the miners. Windy Creek 323 m, is the southern boundary 
of Mt. McKinley National Park. From Windy 326.7 m. (2,056 alt.) is 
seen Panorama Mountain (5,800 alt.). The Nenana River is now fol- 
lowed to Nenana, its course making many horseshoe bends. At 341m. 
on the right, the Yanert River empties into the Nenana River, and 
good views are had of Mt. Deborah (12,540 alt.) and Mt. Hayes 
(13,940 alt,). Riley Creek is crossed, 102 feet above the stream, at 
374.4 m. 

McKinley Park 347.9m. (p.o., i,732alt., 49pop.) is the entrance to 
Mt. McKinley National Park, and its post office. Kantishna and 
Diamond (p.o., i pop.) are west of the park. 

Mt. McKinley National Park, second in size only to Yellowstone, 
with an area of 3,030 square miles, was created by act of Congress in 
1917, and was enlarged to its present area in 1932. The park is ad- 
ministered under the National Park Service of the Department of the 
Interior by a resident superintendent. It is a vast wilderness, with ice- 
capped peaks, grinding glaciers, and sphagnum-covered foothills 
sweeping down to forests of spruce in the valleys. "Here lies a rugged 
highland area far greater in extent than all Switzerland, a virgin field 
for explorers and mountaineers," wrote A. H. Brooks, chief of the 
Alaska Division of the United States Geological Survey. "He who 
would master unattained summits, explore unknown rivers, or traverse 




* I' 

-->MT. RUSSELL -''- 




untrodden glaciers in a region whose scenic beauties are unequaled, 
has not to seek them in South America or Central Asia, for genera- 
tions will pass before the possibilities of the Alaska Range are ex- 

The principal scenic feature of the park is Mt. McKinley, the 
highest peak on the North American continent. The mountain thrusts 
its snow-covered peak high into the clouds, reaching an altitude of 
20,300 feet above sea level, and rises 17,000 feet above timber line. No 
other mountain, even in the Himalayas, rises so far above its own base. 
On its north and west sides McKinley rises abruptly from a plateau 
only 2,500 to 3,000 feet high. For two-thirds of the way down from 
its summit it is enveloped in snow throughout the year. 


The mountain was probably first sighted in the late eighteenth 
century by Cook and Vancouver. The Indians called it "Bulshaia" 
(Russian bulshoi: great), and "Traleika," a Native word for "great." 
In 1896, W. A. Dickey, leading a party of prospectors through the 
Susitna Valley, saw the peak and named it Denali, supposed to mean 
"home of the sun." Seven or eight prospecting parties saw the peak 
in the summer of 1896, compared notes, and estimated its height as 
around 20,000 feet. Upon returning to civilization, Dickey renamed 
the mountain upon hearing of McKinley's nomination for the presi- 

Mt. McKinley is crowned by two peaks. The south pinnacle is 
20,300 feet in altitude and the north peak is only 300 feet lower. The 
first attempts to conquer the mountain were made in 1903: one party 
under the leadership of Judge James Wickersham, and the other, 
headed by Dr. Frederick A. Cook. Neither was successful, and in 
1906 Cook made a second attempt which he claimed was crowned 
by success. 

In 1910, four "sourdoughs" who were not satisfied with Dr. Cook's 
story of his ascent undertook to climb Mt. McKinley, and two of 
them, Taylor and Anderson, reached the north peak. For many years 
a photograph of the group at the summit, framed in a handmade 
willow molding, hung in Bill McPhee's saloon in Fairbanks. When 
Bill left the country he gave the photograph to some old-timer living 
on a near-by creek and since then all trace of it has been lost. In 
1912 a party under Dr. Herschel Parker and Belmore Brown suc- 
ceeded in getting within a few hundred feet of the summit of the 
south peak. 

On June 7, 1913, Archdeacon Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens (later 
superintendent of the park), and two companions reached the summit 
of the south peak. They were the first men ever to achieve this goal. 
Nearly nineteen years later, on May 7, 1932, a party composed of 
Alfred D. Lindley, Minneapolis attorney; Harry J. Liek, superintend- 
ent of Mt. McKinley National Park; Erling Strom, ski expert from 
Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Grant Pearson, a park ranger, accomplished 
the same feat. On May 9 they also climbed the north peak and 
achieved the distinction of being the first expedition to ascend both 
peaks of the great mountain. 

In July, 1936, the National Geographic Society-Pan American Ex- 
pedition, headed by Bradford Washburn of the Institute of Geo- 

282 THE LAS T 1- R O N T I E R 

graphical Exploration of Harvard University, made a flight over Mt. 
McKinlcy in a Lockheed Electra monoplane and took photographs 
at a height of 17,000 feet with a large Fairchild K-6 aerial camera, 
using oxygen at altitudes over 15,000 feet. "From the summit of the 
north peak, whose altitude is over 19,000 feet," reported Mr. Wash- 
burn, "this side of Mt. McKinley drops in a terrific slope of glittering 
ice and rock — one unbroken, stupendous cliff to the plains of the 
Kantishna 17,000 feet below." 

Near Mt. McKinley are Mt. Foraker (i7,oooalt.), Mt. Hunter 
(i4,96oalt.), and Mt. Russell (ii,6ooalt.). 

The first ascent of both peaks of Mt. Foraker was made by a climb- 
ing party, consisting of Charles S. Houston, Harvard student and 
head of the expedition; Dr. T. Graham Brown, university professor of 
Physiology Institute, CardifT, England, who later taught at North 
Andover, Mass. The north peak was reached on August 6, 1934, and 
the south peak, on August 10. 

Season. June 10 to September 15. 

Accommodations. At the entrance of the park is a modern hotel, 
which cost about $350,000 and accommodates 128 persons. Trips into 
the interior of the park can be made, and tourists are accommodated in 
tent camps. The Alaska Railroad hopes that it may eventually run 
direct from Seward or Fairbanks to Mt. McKinley National Park, 
eliminating the night stopover at Curry. 

Information: Complaints and suggestions should be addressed to the 
Park Superintendent, Mt. McKinley National Park, Alaska. The Na- 
tional Park Service at Washington, D.C. issues a free booklet, fre- 
quently revised, containing information about the park, the gist of 
which is incorporated here for the benefit of those unable to obtain 
it before making the trip. The booklet also contains a list of books 
and magazine articles about the region. 

Regulations (summarized): Complete regulations may be examined 
at the office of the superintendent of the park. Visitors are requested to 
assist in the administration of the park by observing the rules. 

The destruction, defacement, or disturbance of buildings, signs, 
equipment, or other property, or of trees, flowers, vegetation, or other 
natural conditions and curiosities is prohibited. 

Camping with tents is permitted. When in the vicinity of desig- 


nated camp sites, these sites must be used. Only dead and down timber 
should be used for fuel. All refuse should be burned or buried. 

Fires shall be lighted only when necessary, and when no longer 
needed shall be completely extinguished. They shall not be built in 
duff or a location where a conflagration may result. No lighted cigar, 
cigarette, or other burning material shall be dropped in any grass, 
twigs, leaves, or tree mold. 

All hunting, kilHng, wounding, frightening, capturing or attempt- 
ing to capture any wild bird or animal is prohibited. Firearms are 
prohibited in the park except with the permission of the super- 

Fishing in any manner other than with hook and line is prohibited. 
Fishing in particular water may be suspended by the superintendent. 

Cameras may be freely used in the park for general scenic purposes. 

Gambling in any form or the operation of gambling devices, 
whether for merchandise or otherwise, is prohibited. 

Private notices or advertisements shall not be posted or displayed 
in the park, excepting such as the superintendent deems necessary 
for the convenience and guidance of the public. 

Dogs are not permitted in the park, except by special permission of 
the superintendent. 

Mountain climbing shall be undertaken only with permission of 
the superintendent. 

The penalty for violation of the rules and regulations is a fine of 
not more than $500, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or 
both, together with all costs of the proceedings. 

Roads and Trails: There are 80 miles of graveled automobile roads 
within the park. The stretch of highway beginning at Mt. McKinley 
Park Station has an altitude of 1,732 feet above sea level. It is located 
on a small plateau, surrounded on the north, east, and west sides by 
mountains in close proximity, and on the south side by the more dis- 
tant Alaska Range. Park headquarters is located at 2m. on the 
highway, elevation 2,092 feet. At 12 m. is Savage Camp. 

At Camp Denali 66 m., a fine saddle-horse trail continues into the 
park to the regions about the base of Mt. McKinley. From Mt. Eielson 
(5,861 alt.) the trail crosses Muldrow Glacier to the head of Clear- 
water Creek. Mt. Eielson was named in memory of Carl Ben Eielson. 
Born in North Dakota in 1897, he was an aviator during the World 


War and later a teacher in the Fairbanks High School. He did more 
than any other one man to advance aviation in Alaska. He flew the 
first government mail route in the Territory and piloted Sir Hubert 
Wilkins across the North Pole. He crashed in June, 1930, on a search 
for the Russian steamer Naniil{, lost o(T the Siberian coast. Another 
trail from Mt. Eielson follows down the McKinley River, in the north 
central part of the park about 20 miles north of Mt. McKinley. From 
here may be obtained excellent views of Mt. McKinley's massive bulk 
from base to peak. Wonder Lake may be reached from this point, 
and a few miles farther in the same direction is the Kantishna district. 
In this section may be seen both modern hydraulic mining and old 
prospectors sluicing out gold by the "97" method; also the driving of 
tunnels into gold quartz leads which these prospectors hope to develop 
into dividend-paying mines. 

From Savage River camp an interesting saddlehorse trip can be 
made over the divide and on to the Sanctuary River 22 m. From here 
the trail leads past Double Mountain, across the Teklanika River, 
and on to Igloo Creek, at 33 m. 

Through Sable Pass the trail leads over the East Fork of the Toklat 
River, and then through Polychrome Pass, over the Main Toklat 
River, on through Highway Pass and Thorofare Pass to the lower 
rim of Muldrow Glacier. The trail passes the north side of Mt. 
Eielson, which has been the scene of much prospecting for silver, 
lead, copper, and other metals. 

Near the Savage River camp a trail has been constructed down 
the Savage River canyon beginning at the Savage River bridge and 
continuing between steep mountains that rise abruptly from the bed of 
the river. Grayling is plentiful in the lower end of the canyon. 

Accessible from the park road system are the Mt. Eielson and 
Kantishna lead, zinc, copper, gold, and silver-mining districts. In the 
Kantishna region are important deposits of antimony, a rare and 
valuable metal which is important in alloys used in the manufacture 
of storage batteries, type metal, babbits, and hard lead electrical parts. 
The oxide is used as a pigment and a glaze, the sulphide in rubber 
vulcanizing and the manufacture of fireworks and safety matches. 
This metal is indispensable in time of war. 

Hunting: While hunting or shooting is not permitted in Mt. Mc- 
Kinley Park, hunting parties frequently visit areas adjacent to the 


park, in the Dall country, west of the park, and in the Wood River 
country, lying just east of the park boundary, continuing eastward, 
following the north slope of the Alaska Range to the Richardson Trail. 

Excellent hunting for caribou, mountain sheep (om dalli), moose, 
grizzly, and black bear may be had in these areas. 

The Wood River country is easily accessible, the heart of the game 
country being reached the second day's travel from Mt. McKinley 
Park Station or the Savage River camp. 

For hunting trips guides, packers, horses, grub, all camp and other 
equipment, except hunter's guns, ammunition and hunting license, 
are furnished on the spot. Detailed information and rates will be fur- 
nished upon application. Reservations should be made early for fall 
hunting trips. 

Fishing: The grayling, a very hardy species of the trout family, is 
found in park waters. They are sporty fish and of an average weight 
of one to two pounds. Large schools may be seen swimming in the 
waters of Savage River, at the north entrance to Savage Canyon. The 
angler may also try his luck in Riley Creek, about a half mile from the 
railroad station, where grayling abound. There are also trout in the 
park streams which are classified locally as Dolly Varden. Their 
weight is about one pound. 

Practically all the park streams have their sources in the snow- 
capped mountain ranges. None of them is more than four feet in 
depth; consequently, during the winter they are frozen almost solid, 
with only a small trickle of water flowing underneath the ice above 
the gravel bed. The grayling manages to pass the winter by returning 
to deeper rivers outside the park and coming back when the ice has 
disappeared, about the middle of April. 

Wild Life: Up to September, 1932, 107 kinds of birds and 34 kinds 
of mammals were definitely identified within park boundaries. Among 
the larger mammals, the mountain sheep and the caribou are the 
most numerous. Among the smaller, ground or "parka" squirrels and 
varying hares or "snowshoe rabbits" are most in evidence. The golden 
eagle is the most conspicuous large bird in the park. 

Caribou are found in no other national park. These North Amer- 
ican caribou are related to the domesticated reindeer, which are merely 
an Old World race smaller and darker than the caribou, with much 
shorter legs. Owing to their poor eyesight and almost stupid curiosity, 


caribou are easy to approach, even in an automobile, providing the 
wind does not carry the human scent to their keen nostrils. The Alaska 
moose is the largest animal found in Mt. McKinley National Park, 
It is, roughly, the size of a horse, large males weighing as much as a 
thousand pounds. It has the distinction of being the largest member 
of the deer family. Formerly grizzly bears were common along the 
higher open ridges above timber line at the head of the Toklat River. 
But because of their destruction by prospectors, who claim that the 
bears destroy caches (stored food supplies of miners and other men 
who live in the region), the grizzlies have become relatively rare. 
The tundra brown bear belongs to a group that includes the largest 
carnivorous animals in North America, There is good evidence that 
this species ranges eastward along the north side of the main Alaska 
Range to the headwaters of the Kuskokwim, near the base of Mt. 

The white Alaska mountain sheep are among the handsomest 
game animals of the Mt, McKinley region and are the most fascinating 
to pursue and observe. Two important distinguishing characteristics of 
this species are the white color and relatively slender, spreading horns. 

The wolf is generally a traveler. Some seasons there will be quite a 
number of them in the park, at others, very few. In summer they 
travel alone or in pairs, but in winter they usually gather in bands 
ranging from six to twelve. Wolverene are net very plentiful, but are 
occasionally seen in all sections of the park. They travel and hunt 
alone. Coyotes are new to this section of Alaska, having made their 
first appearance in the park about 1926, The Alaska red foxes are the 
largest of their kind, unexcelled anywhere in quality of fur. They are 
abundant in Mt, McKinley National Park because they are protected 
from hunting, along with the snowshoe rabbits and ptarmigan which 
form their chief diet. Being even brighter red than their relatives in 
the United States, they are quite easy to see against the dark tundra 

Hoary marmots are often called whistlers from their habit of 
announcing any enemy's presence with a loud "traffic cop" whistle. 
They are the Alaska representatives of the common ground hogs or 
woodchucks of continental United States. They are chunky animals, 
with strong claws for digging, bushy tails, and coarse hair of grizzly 
brown color. In former years the park area was a paradise for lynx, 
but in recent years very few have been observed. There are still some 


beaver in the eastern end of the park near the northern boundary, 
and they are showing a remarkable increase in the western area. 
Marten and mink are found in the timbered country along the north- 
ern section of the park; plentiful in some places. 

Snowshoe rabbits are to be seen most years in the spruce woods and 
around willow thickets. In winter the bottoms of their feet are covered 
with thick pads of hair which facilitate progress over the snow, in the 
manner of snowshoes. Snowshoe rabbits are often called varying 
hares, because they change from brown in summer to white in winter. 
The Alaska cony, a rock dweller, sometimes called little chief hare, 
or pika, is the strangest of the small mammals of the park. Their color 
is the same as the rocks on which they perch, and their bright eyes 
and sharp ears are keen to sense any danger. Among the smaller 
animals the ground squirrels are most in evidence. They are quick 
to make friends and exploit the relationship. Around the camp at the 
head of Savage River they prove a menace to everything edible, and 
to human peace and quiet as well. 

The visitor to the Mt. McKinley district is frequently surprised at 
the number of "sea gulls" that breed there, over 300 miles inland, 
far removed from the salt water of the seacoast. In walking along the 
stony gravel bars near Savage River camp he is likely to be startled 
by having one or sometimes a pair of these gulls swoop down on him, 
almost striking his hat. Such attacks come without warning and are 
merely the gulls' method of driving a caribou, fox, or such other native 
intruder away from their nest. 

The Alaska willow ptarmigan is one of the noteworthy birds of 
Mt. McKinley National Park. Since willow ptarmigan do not occur in 
any of our other national parks, they are sought for by visitors here. 

The surf bird is the most distinguished as well as the most elusive 
avian citizen of Mt. McKinley National Park. For nearly one hundred 
and fifty years, since the species was first given its scientific name, the 
nest and eggs remained unknown. The surf bird winters in South 
America as far south as the Strait of Magellan but it breeds among 
the mountain tops of central Alaska. Twice each year, in migration, 
it traverses the Pacific coast of North and South America. 

Trees and Plants: The black spruce, with its somber foliage and 
clusters of tawny cones, is the commonest evergreen tree in the park. 
The graceful paper birch is found in the lower valleys. The cotton- 


woods and the quaking aspen are near the streams. The willows are 
abundant. The thickets which clothe the valleys and the lower slopes 
of the mountains are composed of many varieties of shrubs, prin- 
cipally the dwarf birch, or "buckbrush," a dull green in summer but 
flaming scarlet and orange at the touch of frost. 

Among the spruces near Savage River grow blue lupine and 
several louseworts. In the sunny openings of wood and thicket will be 
found members of the sunflower family. Many little lilac asters come 
up in sandy places, and starry chickweeds are common everywhere. 
As the summer advances, the large-flowered blue larkspur and the 
monkshood thrust their showy flower clusters above the thicket growth. 
Near the park entrance and at most lower altitudes the fireweed 
covers all otherwise unoccupied space with its sheet of bright pink 

Climate: The climate of the park differs on the two sides of the 
Alaska Range. On the inland side of the mountains there are short, 
comparatively warm summers and long, cold winters, with a low 
precipitation. The area draining into the Pacific has a more equable 
climate; the summers are longer and cooler and the winters warmer 
than in the Interior, with much greater precipitation. 

The average snowfall in winter varies from 30 to 35 inches during 
the whole of the season, while in the summer the total precipitation 
never amounts to more than 15 inches. Temperatures range from 60° 
to 80° in the summer, and in the winter, although at times the ther- 
mometer runs down to 45° and 50° below zero, it usually averages 
about 5° to 10° below. 

The sunshine during the summer is gorgeous and lasts for more 
than eighteen hours a day. On June 21, the longest day in the year, 
the sun is visible at midnight from the top of mountains approxi- 
mately 4,000 feet in height, and photographs may be taken at that time. 

Glaciers: All of the largest northward-flowing glaciers of the Alaska 
Range rise on the slopes of Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker. Of these 
the largest are the Herron, having its source in the neve fields of Mt. 
Foraker; the Peters, which encircles the northwest end of Mt. Mc- 
Kinley; and the Muldrow, whose front is about 15 miles northeast of 
Mt. McKinley and whose source is in the unsurveyed heart of the 
range. The fronts of all these glaciers for a distance of one-fourth to 
one-half a mile are deeply buried in rock debris. 


Along the crest line there are many smaller glaciers, including 
some of the hanging type. Both slopes of Mt. McKinley and Mt. 
Foraker are ice covered. 

The greatest glaciers of the Alaska Range are on its southern slope, 
which is exposed to the moisture-laden winds of the Pacific. The 
largest of the Pacific slope glaciers, however, lie in the basin of the 
Yentna and Chulitna rivers. These have their source high up in the 
loftiest parts of the range and extend south far beyond the boundaries 
of the park. 

The glaciers all appear to be retreating rapidly, but, so far, little 
direct proof has been obtained of the rate of recession. According to 
a rough estimate of geologists studying the area, the average annual 
recession of the Muldrow Glacier may be about one-tenth of a mile. 

On the inland front but little morainic material is left along the old 
tracks of the glaciers, and it appears that most of the frontal debris is 
removed by the streams as fast as it is laid down. Such a process would 
be accelerated in this northern latitude by the freshets that accompany 
the spring breakup. The glaciers as a rule are not badly crevassed and 
many of them afford, beyond the frontal lobes, excellent routes of 

Most of the valleys are lowlands of the region and, during the 
Pleistocene period, were filled with glacial ice. This ice also overrode 
some of the lower foothills, while in the high regions were the 
extensive neve fields which fed the ice streams. 

Leaving Mt. McKinley National Park, the railroad passes through 
narrow, twisting Nenana Canyon, close to the swift Nenana River, 
dives under three tunnels, and arrives at Healy 358.1m. (p.o., i,368alt., 
14 pop.), where a half-hour stop is made for lunch. Large black coal 
seams are plainly visible in the hillside, and a four-mile branch line 
runs to the Healy River lignite coal mines on the opposite side of 
the valley. Suntrana (61 pop.) is a few miles east of the railroad, 
above Healy. Nenana River 370.7 m. is crossed on a steel bridge 488 
feet long. From Ferry 371.2m. (i,oo6alt.), a road leads to the Bonni- 
field placer and gold quartz region. 

Nenana 411.7m. (p.o., 362 alt., 291 pop.) is a village on the south 
bank of the Tanana River at its confluence with the Nenana, and was 
an Indian village in 1902. The town as it exists today was built in 
1916 as a base for railroad construction in the northern division. 

290 THE LAST I- R O N T I E R 

Perhaps no institution is so typically Alaskan as the yearly Nenana 
ice sweepstakes. Each year thousands of Alaskans attempt to guess the 
day, hour, and minute of the breakup of the ice on the Nenana 
River, wagering one or more one-dollar-sweepstake tickets on the 
outcome. Every conceivable method of fixing the date in advance is 
used — exact science, astrology, numerology, and just plain guessing. 
One year a group of engineers in the Fairbanks district took daily 
ice measurements in many rivers and small streams of the vicinity, 
averaged the temperatures, the melting of the ice, and the depth of the 
streams. Applying their findings to the depth and width of the 
Nenana, they devised a mathematical formula, then formed a pool 
of $1,000, each dollar representing a guess. Their thousand guesses 
were all four days wrong. More accurate was the Anchorage resident 
who by astrology figured that the ice would break up in 1937 on 
May II. Since the stars failed to inform him as to the exact hour 
the ice would move, he covered every minute of May 11 at one dollar 
the minute, betting $1,440. The ice broke up on May 12, and Merwin 
Anderson, Fairbanks bus driver, won $70,000 on a one dollar bet. 
One old-timer, remembering that drunkards are proverbially lucky, 
roused a man intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness and asked 
him to name a date. The drunkard obliged with "August 24." 

The exact moment of the breakup is determined by an elaborate 
system in which wires, attached to a bell and clock on shore, are run 
out into the river and frozen into the ice. Accurate data have been 
kept since 1917. The ice has broken four times on May 11 and three 
times on April 30. On the occasion of the earliest breakup the date 
corresponded with the year — April 26, 1926. Up to 1939 the latest 
breakup was on May 15, 1935. 

For the benefit of visitors who wish to try their luck, below are 
listed the dates when the ice broke up for 23 years: 

1917 — April 30 1 1 :3o a.m. 

191 8 — May 11 9:33 a.m. 

1919 — May 3 2:33 P.M. 

1920 — May II 10:46 A.M. 

1921 — May II 6:42 A.M. 

1922 — May 12 1:20 P.M. 

1923 — May 9 2:00 P.M. 

1924 — May II 3:10 P.M. 

1925 — May 7 6:32 P.M. 


1926 — April 26 4:03 P.M. 

1927 — May 13 5:42 A.M. 

1928 — May 6 4:25 p.m. 

1929 — May 5 3:41 P.M. 

1930 — May 8 7:03 p.m. 

1931 — May 10 9:23 A.M. 

1932 — May I 10:15 A.M. 

1933 — May 8 7:30 p.m. 

1934 — April 30 2:07 P.M. 

1935 — May 15 1 132 P.M. 

1936 — April 30 12:58 P.M. 

1937 — May 12 8:04 P.M. 

1938 — May 6 8:14 p.m. 

1939 — April 29 1 :26 p.m. 

At Nenana the train connects with freight and passenger steamers 
operated up and down the Yukon. Nenana is the distributing point 
for a considerable portion of central Alaska bordering on the Tanana 
and Yukon rivers, including the Iditarod, Innoko, Hot Springs, 
Ruby, and Marshall gold-mining districts. In the fall the steamers are 
dragged up on the ways, repaired, and stored during the winter by the 
Marine Ways, maintained by the railroad. 

In 1923 the Alaska Railroad inaugurated weekly freight and pas- 
senger service between Nenana and Holy Cross, a one-way distance of 
723 miles. In 1933 obsolete steamers were replaced by the Nenana, a 
wooden stern-wheel paddle vessel with 600 horsepower, horizontal 
condensing engine and twenty-three two-berth staterooms, 237 feet 
long, drawing only 3^4 feet when fully loaded. The Nenana is sup- 
plemented by the Alice, a smaller vessel with six staterooms and 
twenty-one berths, and covered freight barges. During the season of 
river navigation (May 15 to Oct. i) these vessels ply between Nenana 
and Marshall, 858 miles, where connection is made with boats plying 
lower Yukon River points to St. Michael. At Koyukuk connection is 
made with boats operating on the Koyukuk River. The White Pass 
and Yukon Railway operates steamers upstream on the Yukon from 
Nenana to Whitehorse, Y.T. (See Part II, 2). 

The railroad crosses the Tanana River on a 700-foot steel bridge, 
one of the largest of its kind in the world, at 413.7m. At the south end 
of the bridge is an Indian mission. At the north end of the bridge 
President Harding drove the golden spike that marked the completion 


of the railroad on July 15, 1923. On ihc north hank of the Tanana, 
just below the bridge, several Indian fish wheels revolve with the force 
of the current and scoop out fish used by the Indians for food. 

From Dunbar 431.6m. (368alt.), trails lead to the Livengood and 
Tolovana gold-mining districts, 65 miles north. From Happv 460.8m. 
(6o9alt.) a narrow-gauge railroad formerly extended for 39 miles, serv- 
ing the Fox, Gilmore, Olnes, Eldorado, and Chatanika gold districts, 
but was abandoned upon the completion of automobile roads. The 
discovery of gold in these districts resulted in the great Fairbanks 
rush of 1903-4. The Ester Dome gold-quartz district is on the right. 

University Farm 466m. (437alt.) is an agricultural experiment 
station conducted by the University of Alaska, itself located at College 
467.1m. (p.o., 436 alt., 61 pop. chiefly faculty), Fairbanks 470.5m. (p.o., 
2,101 pop.), once simply a mining camp but today one of the metrop- 
olises of Alaska, is the focal point of a great gold mining, agricultural, 
and wild-life district. (For College, Fairbanks, and the Steese and 
Elliott highways see Part II, 6.) 


Fairbanks — Chena Hot Springs — Upper Koyukuk — College — Livengood 
— Circle. 


FAIRBANKS (p.o., 448alt., 2,101 pop.), the "golden heart" of Alaska, 
is the metropolis of the Interior. This former mining camp on a bend 
of the Chena River is the northern terminus of the Alaska Railroad 
and the Richardson Highway, the southwestern terminus of Steese 
Highway, and a focal point on world air routes. It has been compared 
in location and importance with the early Westport Landing, that 
later became Kansas City. Like early Kansas City, here certain types 
of transportation end, and other and more primitive types begin for 
farther-faring pioneers. Like Kansas City, it is located almost exactly 
in the geographical center of the country and has a financial and com- 
mercial importance far beyond the actual size of its population. Its 
more modest houses are one-story cabins of peeled logs set in a frame 
of flowers and heated with wood-burning stoves; its more pretentious 
dwellings are neat frame structures with cement foundations, garages, 
bathrooms and furnaces, bordered by new sidewalks — cement on the 



main streets, plank on the outskirts — and alongside the walks are run- 
ning waterpipcs liid'Ced with stcampipes to keep them from freezing in 
winter. The business district, along First and Second avenues, is lined 
with hotels, cafes, stores, Finnish bathhouses, transportation agencies, 
prospecting outfitters. And its streets are crowded with prospectors, 
mining engineers, government ofBcials, an occasional farmer, a few 
Indians, bus drivers, plane pilots, teachers from the university — and, 
in the summer season, tourists. 

Perhaps nowhere else in the whole Territory of Alaska is the 
contrast between summer and winter so marked as in this bustling 
city, 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle. During the long summer 
days, when the temperature frecjuently rises to 90° in the shade and 
the nights are brief intervals of twilight between sunset and dawn, 
a kind of fever seizes the citizens of Fairbanks. With only one 
hundred days to wrest gold from placer or drift, to raise cabbages, 
potatoes and hay in the fields, and tomatoes and green vegetables 
in the greenhouses, to make new strikes or to develop old ones, to 
supply the vast expanse of the Interior with transportation, household 
goods, mining equipment, and technical direction, everybody works 
most of the daylight hours. Stages, trucks, and private automobiles 
come and go south to the copper country and the coast region around 
Valdez, east to the gold districts from Cleary to Circle. Trains and 
motorcars arrive on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage, Seward, 
and Matanuska Valley; silver Lockheed Electras arrive from Juneau 
to the southeast and depart for Nome to the northwest; small red 
or yellow freight or passenger Stinsons and Bellancas dip and soar on 
their way to or from Wiseman, north of the Arctic Circle, Goodncws, 
Bristol Bay, the Alaska Peninsula, and the Kuskokwim. The revolving 
oven of the North Pole bakery ships loaves of bread by train, plane 
and auto as far as Bethel on the lower Kuskokwim. In the lobby of 
the three-story, 120-room Nordale Hotel miners and prospectors from 
all over Alaska, the States, South America, Canada, and Russia sit on 
modernistic chromium chairs and swap experiences from the world 
around. The only residents of Fairbanks unafTected by the summer 
fever of activity are the guests from remote sections of the Interior 
languishing in the "skookum house" — the Fairbanks jail. 

As winter comes on and the nights grow longer, the air becomes 
breathlessly still and the thermometer drops to the bottom of the tube. 
The light snow remains poised on telephone lines and bare branches 


of trees in motionless bands inches high, unshaken by a breath of 
wind. Deep tracks are worn to woodpiles outside the door, the stove 
glows red in the early afternoon twilight, and under the lamp grown 
men pore over treatises on mining and agriculture to make a passing 
mark in their courses at the University of Alaska. Fifty-inch logs 
crackle in the fireplace in the lobby of the Nordale Hotel, and the 
North Pole bakery freezes thousands of loaves of bread that six weeks 
later in remote outlying camps, after thawing in the oven, will be 
as fresh as when baked. Kerosene freezes thick and white, and dogs 
learn to turn aside when patted to avoid the tingle of a spark of 
static electricity jumping from the human hand to their noses. Every 
third day Harold Gillam takes off from the airport and soars to 18,500 
feet to make tests for the Weather Bureau. Mail, freight, and pas- 
sengers still come in over the Alaska Railroad, planes arrive daily, 
but the sharp, cold quiet deadens all things, throws the mind in 
upon itself — until there comes a rush of water in the Chena, when the 
ice breaks, and a rush of blood to the head, and spring begins. 

Although the fifteenth census gives Fairbanks only slightly more 
than 2,000 population, its total population in 1939 was probably above 
4,000; and the population of the area it serves — roughly equivalent to 
a great circle with a radius of 100 miles — is much greater. The social, 
cultural, and commercial facilities of the town are equivalent to those 
of a much larger city in the States, and include telephone, tele- 
graph, electricity, a radio station, a hospital, a chamber of commerce, 
a junior chamber, several churches, many clubs, and several labor 
unions. Over 400 children attend school in a three-story fireproof 
building, equipped with laboratory, gymnasium, shop, and home eco- 
nomics department in addition to the customary classrooms. The Fair- 
banks High School is a member of the Northwest Association of 
Secondary and Higher Schools, and approximately seventy percent 
of the graduates attend higher institutions. The Thomas Memorial 
Public Library is housed in a building especially erected for the pur- 
pose on First Avenue and Cowles Street, set in a frame of flowers, 
with a paid librarian in charge. There is a well-equipped fire depart- 
ment that must batde against low water pressure during extremely 
cold weather, and, since there is no town reservoir, must pump water 
from wells, thence through hydrants to the fire. The town established 
its first regular fire department in 1906, after a disastrous fire that, 
starting above the Eagle saloon at the corner of First Avenue and 


Cushman Street, spread and destroyed three square blocks in the 
business district. The imposing concrete and steel Federal building 
at Second Avenue and Cushman Street houses the post office, court 
house, and a number of Federal agencies. Other building construction 
undertaken in 1938 was valued at more than $1,000,000. Lathrop Block, 
a half-million dollar, five story concrete building, houses the Fair- 
banks News Miner (daily, 10 cents), a newspaper with an exceed- 
ingly up-to-date plant, capable of turning out not only ordinary 
commercial printing but pamphlets and even full-sized books. Station 
KFAR broadcasts from the top floor of this building. 

The history of Fairbanks began with the discovery of gold by Felix 
Pedro in 1902. Pedro, who is also credited with the discovery of 
Cleary and Coldstream, two of the greatest gold-producing creeks of 
the Fairbanks area, started prospecting in the spring of 1898 from 
Chicken Creek in the Fortymile district with a partner named Kin- 
ney and worked his way down the Tanana, thence up the headwaters 
of the Charley and Goodpaster rivers, living off the country. Return- 
ing to the Fortymile district, Pedro secured a grubstake from John 
Martin and R. O. Rothenburg. Floating down the Yukon until frozen 
in, Pedro spent the winter of 1898-9 on an island cutting wood for the 
steamboat line. Early in the summer of 1899 Pedro arrived in Circle, 
outfitted again, and headed over the mountains to the Chatanika 
River, thence to Cleary Creek. Finally, in September, 1902, he struck 
gold on what is now Pedro Creek. He is not known to have taken 
out much dust, and a few years later went Outside and died. "On 
September 8," records Herb E. Willson, a pioneer in the district, 
"a meeting of the early stampeders was held on newly discovered 
Pedro Creek, and there we appointed a recorder and named the 
place Fairbanks, after the vice-president." 

News of the strike spread rapidly, but gold rushers were disap- 
pointed, as the gold-laden bedrock was buried under 80 to 100 feet 
of muck and gravel. Since this meant the use of expensive equipment 
and largescale operation, Fairbanks during its gold rush never seri- 
ously suffered from the kind of mushroom development that almost 
wrecked Dawson and Nome. Fairbanks has its gaudy memories, but 
these survive only in the reminiscences of a few old-timers or in the 
twinkling eye of an otherwise sedate matron of Fairbanks society. 

Drift mining, or deep placer mining as it is sometimes called, was 
the method commonly employed in this district. First a shaft was 


sunk to bedrock — a weary, arduous task — and the gravel and sand 
panned for "colors." If there were none, it meant weeks of toil wasted, 
but on the miners went, ever hopeful that at the "next hole" they 
would strike pay dirt. "Next hole" was a common phrase in the 
prospector's vocabulary. 

If the gravel contained gold, tunnels were driven along the pay 
streaks. The gold-speckled dirt was hoisted up the shaft in buckets. 
During the winter it was piled in "dumps" to be washed in the 
spring, but during the open season it was run through the sluice 
boxes as it came from the shaft. The gold that gathered in the riffles 
in the bottom of the boxes was "cleaned-up" every so often. 

It is a far cry from the crude, primitive methods of placer mining 
in the rush days to the efficient, up-to-date, gold-saving devices now 
employed. In the days of rich, shallow diggings, men could be seen 
gleaning gold from the gravel simply by panning. Even more cus- 
tomary, especially on the Nome beach, was the use of rockers and 
long toms. The rocker consisted of a dozen or more small riffles 
attached to a canvas-covered, sloping boctom. Occasionally an amalgam 
plate was added to improve recovery. A long torn was an improved 
rocker and was used in place of a sluice box where running water 
was not available. These methods were soon succeeded by the sluice 
box, the simplest type of continuous concentrator. There were sluice 
boxes and sluice boxes — some large, some small, some crude, some 
carefully fashioned. Generally they were rectangular flumes of wood, 
having various types of riffles laid along and across their bottoms. 

In the Fairbanks district, where drift mining was common and 
tailing spaces scarce, long flumes of sluice boxes were built and ele- 
vated 20 or ^0 feet in the air, and the gravel hoisted into them. 

The early miner had two alternatives in working shallow, low- 
grade ground: hydraulicking, and using mechanical excavators, such 
as derricks, draglines, steam shovels; or Bagley scrapers. Dredging, 
which came later, required both a large investment, and a thorough 
knowledge of the value of the ground, and for most miners was out of 
the question. The use of mechanical excavators also required consider- 
able capital. Hydraulicking alone was within the reach of the miner 
of modest means, but this method was dependent upon an ample 
supply of water. 

In each method the problem of thawing frozen ground was a 
vital one. At first, the very primitive system of building wood fires 


against the face of the opening was employed. Miners soon improved 
upon this process by improvising steam points out of old rifle barrels, 
driving them into the frozen gravel, and forcing in steam. Later, 
manufactured steam points were brought into the country. These 
methods were both difficult and expensive and led eventually to the 
perfection of the cold-water thawing system. The frozen condition of 
the ground, which was such a problem to the miners using these 
methods, was extremely advantageous to the drift miner as it elim- 
inated the necessity of timbering and pumping. 

Toward the close of the second decade following the discovery 
of gold, mining operations in the Interior reached a dormant period. 
The cream of the bench placers had been taken, drift miners struck 
barren creeks and became discouraged, rich creeks had become ex- 
hausted of high-grade dirt, and small-scale miners could not afford 
to work the low grade properties. The old-timers were reminiscing 
about "that strike up the Koyukuk," or the "good old Klondike 
days." They were reliving the old days and trails — not blazing new 

Then came the government railroad and capital. Eastern interests 
were sending their engineers and geologists to determine the feasibility 
of large-scale mining operations. The Fairbanks Exploration Com- 
pany, a subsidiary of the United States Smelting, Refining and Mining 
Company, began to prospect near Fairbanks in 1924 and acquired 
practically all the claims on Cleary and Coldstream creeks. 

Until the completion of the government railroad in 1923, the Fair- 
banks district had to rely on boat or stage transportation — each as 
expensive as it was slow — so that dredging of the worked-out areas 
was economically impossible. For years, the life of Fairbanks had been 
slowly but surely ebbing. The coming of the railroad was like an 
elixir of youth. Not only did the building of the road bring employ- 
ment and good salaries to many in the district, but it meant that now 
large-scale gold production was practicable. 

Before the last rail had been laid, several large companies had 
started development plans. In 1938 there were eight monster dredges 
in the Fairbanks district: six owned by the Fairbanks Exploration 
Company and two by the Fairbanks Gold-Dredging Company. There 
were four in the near-by Circle district: one at Coal Creek and one at 
Woodchopper, owned by the General McRae interests; one owned by 
the Dead wood Mining Company; and one, by the Berry interests. 


With the coming of capital, the cruder methods of gold mining 
gave place to mass production and modern mining methods. There 
was a transition from individual endeavor to company operation. The 
colorful, adventuresome prospector is not seen so often — in his stead 
are high-salaried business executives. Rocky, swampy roads were re- 
placed by miles of smooth highways. Automobiles, trains, and even 
airplanes replaced the rickety wagons, stagecoaches, and dog teams. 
Of course, some remnants of the "old days" remained, but the general 
trend was toward highly efficient, large-scale production. In many 
sections near Fairbanks, the rich pay was worked out years ago and 
it is only through mass production that the mining of what is left 
can be profitable. 

The Fairbanks mining area is approximately 30 miles wide and 
50 miles long, and since the first discovery in 1902, its gold-bearing 
streams have yielded more than one hundred million dollars. And they 
are still giving up their treasure. 

An important factor in gold-mining operations near Fairbanks is 
the increasing use of the airplane. It would otherwise be impossible 
to operate certain mines located so far from rail or water transporta- 
tion that they were forrnerly accessible only in winter, and then only 
by dog team. A party of prospectors would exhaust the entire grub- 
stake simply in reaching their destination. The prospector or miner 
today can step into an airplane and be landed with his equipment 
at his destination in a few hours' time. The pilot can bring him addi- 
tional supplies at arranged intervals. The miner can then expend all 
his time and effort during the working season on mining. The happy 
ending comes when, after months of labor, he hands the pilot a poke 
of gold dust to take to the bank. 

Bringing supplies to the miner is a dramatic event. Soaring above 
the tundra, the pilot circles a cabin far below. A dark object against 
the ground waves its arms, the plane circles, tilts a wing, drops lower, 
and levels out. A package goes over the side, the silken folds of a 
parachute slowly fill, and the supplies drop slowly to earth — bags of 
flour, beans, bread, 50-pound parcels of dynamite, and the all-important 

Gold mining is, of course, the principal industry of the Fairbanks 
district, and the Fairbanks precinct of the Fourth Judicial Division 
produces more gold annually than all the other precincts combined. 
Another important industry, one day to become a major one, is lum- 


Bering and logging. Engelmann's spruce predominates in the region, 
and its natural location in river valleys and flats afTords cheap trans- 
portation to the mills at Fairbanks. The logs average about twenty 
inches in diameter and usually run about 10,000 feet to the acre. The 
logging is done by horses or tractors during winter temperatures as 
low as fifty below zero. 

Today the available timber is situated away from the banks of the 
streams and must be cut and yarded along the river banks to be rolled 
into the river when the spring freshets come after the ice has gone out. 
Then begins the hazardous and risky task of driving the logs to the 
mill at Fairbanks, nearly 175 miles distant, through tortuous sloughs 
and meandering rivers full of snags, drift piles, and treacherous bars. 

The average drive takes from six to eight weeks to bring the entire 
cut to the mill. During 1912, when there was an enormous demand 
for lumber for mining and building, large drives of several million 
feet of timber were attempted, but, because of the swift and treach- 
erous currents of the Tanana River and inadequate equipment, nearly 
two million feet of logs were lost. Now, however, the drives are 
made in smaller quantities, closely watched by the drivers in poling 
boats, while powerful motor launches are used to place adequate shear 
booms in strategic places. 

The loggers get very little rest during the drive, eating when they 
can, usually wet to the skin, and on the constant lookout for log 
jams. During the course of a drive several hundred pounds of dyna- 
mite are used to clear away the jams that occur. 

The method of driving is peculiar to this country, and only through 
years of practice can successful drives be satisfactorily carried out. 
Experience is needed to know the proper time for launching so that 
the high waters will take the logs over bars which would be impossible 
during low water. 

Nearly all the timber used in and around Fairbanks comes from 
the Salcha and Chena river regions, to be cut into lumber and shipped 
to points on the Alaska Railroad, down the Yukon River on boats, 
and flown by plane into inaccessible mining properties far into the 
Interior. Each year sees an increasing demand for building material, 
and the entire log drives are converted into lumber for use in build- 
ing. Years ago the spruce timber cut in the Tanana Valley supplied 
all the wants of the building trade, but, because of the increasing 
demand, nearly fifty percent of the lumber used in this area in 1937 


was shipped in. Crews are on the alert constantly for new stands of 
timber, and airplane trips are often made to cruise timber and deter- 
mine the best methods of logging it. 

Rapidly approaching a major industry is the lodging and entertain- 
ing of tourists who arrive by the Yukon River from Whitehorse, on 
the Alaska Railroad, or over the Richardson Highway. The number 
coming to Fairbanks increases each season — in the summer of 1937, 
between 1200 and 1300 tourists visited the town. 

Fairbanks is the main center of a trading zone of 227,000 miles. No 
city in the United States, its territories, or insular possessions has so 
vast a tributary area. Freight and supplies arriving by railroad or 
highway are transported farther into the Interior by Fairbanks' twelve 
hundred autos and trucks over a highway system totaling 1200 miles, 
or directly through the air by plane. 

More than thirty planes operate continuously from the local air- 
port, which is situated exactly on the only all-land route between the 
Occident and the Orient. Fairbanks citizens are becoming accustomed 
to having travelers drop in to refuel on their way round the world. 
The Howard Hughes flight of 1938 is the most recent instance. A 
proposed $10,000,000 army air base at Fairbanks might, if established, 
make the town a center for 2,000 planes and add 2,500 to its popu- 

With its extremes of climate, ranging from as low as 60° below 
zero in winter to as high as 100° above in summer, agriculture is 
more difficult than in Matanuska Valley. Grain, hay, and hardy 
vegetables are raised on a soil permanently frozen at a depth of two 
feet, and table vegetables are grown in the scores of private hothouses 
in the town. A cucumber raised in Fairbanks in 1937 measured twenty- 
three inches from tip to tip and eight inches in circumference. Flowers 
and shrubs grow in profusion, and the chamber of commerce offers 
prizes to owners of the finest gardens of various types. Most common 
is the old-fashioned flower garden, full of pansies, nasturtiums, snap- 
dragons, sweet peas, poppies, petunias, zinnias and asters. T. M. Hunt 
of Fairbanks, the only Alaska member of the American Rose Associa- 
tion, has found twelve varieties of roses suited to the locality. Six 
varieties of lilies grow here, including Siberian coral, Tiger, and 
Nodding, and some six varieties of iris, from dwarf yellow to tall 
purple. Peonies are winter hardy, but summer rains spoil the bloom. 
The spring bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, will winter in the 

302 THE LAST 1- R f) N T I E R 

ground and produce late spring moves. Hardy shrubs tested by Mr. 
Hunt are the hlac, the asp-leaved spiraea, the Tartarian honeysuckle, 
the cottonaster, the Amur tamarisk, the Siberian dogwood, and the 
daphne — with these flowering shrubs a continuous circle of blooms 
may be had from the spring breakup to fall frost. Small fruit trees, 
such as chokecherry and service berry, imported from Canada and 
the northern states, grow well, as of course do such local shrubs and 
trees as birch, spruce, tamarack, highbrush cranberries, and juniper. 
An important annual event is the midnight ball game played 
every year on June 21. On this day also, visitors may see the mid- 
night sun by making a special flight in a plane high enough over 
the city to see past the Arctic Circle. At Tanana Valley Fair, held 
during the first few days of September, stock and agricultural products 
from the whole region are exhibited and prizes given during the day, 
and in the evening there are movies, "addresses by prominent 
speakers," and "jitney dancing." The all Alaska Ice Carnival and 
Dog Derby is held annually during four days in March, when dog 
mushers with their huskies, hockey and basketball teams, skiers, 
skaters, burlers, beauty queens, and visitors from all over the Interior 
and Yukon Territory gather to compete for honors and to enjoy 
parades, fireworks, pageants, parties, and dances. 

Fifty miles by air northwest of Fairbanks is Chena Hot Springs, 
on Monument Creek, a tributary of the Chena River. This resort, 
in the heart of charming scenery and excellent hunting and fishing 
grounds, has eight cabins and a roadhouse, with facilities for taking 
care of thirty visitors. A hotel and cottages are to be erected, as well 
as heated greenhouses, outside gardens, and a large pavilion. The 
principal characteristic of the water is its content of sulphate, chloride, 
and bicarbonate of sodium. In general character it is somewhat like 
the Felsenquelle, one of the famous springs at Karlsbad, Bohemia. 
Moose, caribou, and bear are abundant, and near-by streams are full 
of grayling. The resort may be reached only by plane in summer 
(consult local airlines) and by dog team in winter; but in time an auto 
highway will be constructed direct from Fairbanks. 

One hundred and ninety-five miles north of Fairbanks is the town 
of Wiseman (p.o., 80 pop. est. 193S) accessible in summer by plane 
only, about 70 miles northeast of Bettles (2^ pop.). (For the Chan- 
dalar district see Part II, 2.) Allakaket (p.o.) is 30 miles southwest 


of Bettles on the Koyukuk River, and has a mission for Natives. These 
settlements, well within the Arctic Circle, lie in the Upper Koyukuk 
district, a pioneer gold field still awaiting new methods. Here miners 
work with the hand windlass, boiler and hoist, as they did a genera- 
tion ago in other parts of Alaska. For the sheer joy of finding gold, 
perhaps no district has more lure, as much of the gold is very coarse. 
Nuggets weighing as tnuch as sixty or seventy ounces are frequently 
found above Twelvemile Creek, and the fine gold is "shotty" and 
heavy. Further down river the gold is fine and flaky with some "flour". 
Even with primitive methods, fortunes have been taken from this 
district. The "big money" has been pretty well mined out, but if 
anyone would like to try his luck at prospecting, here is the place to 
do it. 

The most important item in a prospector's outfit is a good pair of 
well-nailed boots. They may be low or high, but should not be over 
twelve inches. A boot eighteen inches high tends to bind the muscles 
of the leg; it is stiff and also costly. The next item is a good sleeping 
bag or wool blankets. A man may endure exposure and hardship pro- 
vided he can get rest and sleep. For summer weather a good nine- 
pound eiderdown or kapok sleeping bag or a pair of double blankets 
weighing eight to ten pounds, with a light shower-proof, sail-silk or 
canvas cover, will be sufficient in nearly any place in Alaska. For 
winter use, a sixteen-pound eiderdown or two pairs of double blankets 
are required. 

For a tent, anything from a seven by nine light-weight canvas sheet 
to a good tent of sufficient size to accommodate the prospector and 
his partner will do, depending on the season, country, and means of 
transportation. If only a fly is carried, it is well to take along a small 
mosquito tent. 

An ax should be of good quality and weight, and a single-bitted 
one is the most serviceable type. A small axstone and file are essential. 
A rifle is useful when game is in season or when a man is far from 
civilization and must depend on the country for part of his food. A 
fishing line and some hooks and flies take up little space and are 
most useful. 

Some sort of geologist's hammer, pick, or mattock must be carried. 
A light-weight mattock or prospector's pick on a long handle are good 

Either a packsack or packboard is essential unless horses are to 


be used solely. A pack can be made out of a pair of overalls, but 
when a man is going to carry a heavy load long distances, a good 
packsack or pack board is indispensable. The pack board is preferable 
except in heavy brush or sleep country, where the packsack has the 

For cooking utensils those made of either tin or aluminum are 
the best except for cups, which should be -made of enamelware. 
Provision bags are inexpensive and handy. Large bags, capable of 
holding sacks of flour and sugar, made of paraffined canvas, are worth 
the cost, while small bags holding two to ten pounds keep provisions 
clean and intact. 

Some bandages, a bottle of iodine, and one or two simple medi- 
cines, such as tabloid laxatives, should be in every pack. 

The simplest method of recovering placer gold is by panning. 
The gold pan is a circular dish of sheet iron with sloping sides, 
varying from, ten to eighteen inches in diameter, and having a depth 
of from 2/4 to 3 inches. The pan should be light and strong, with 
smooth inner surfaces kept free from grease and rust. Sometimes 
gold pans are made of copper, so that the bottom may be coated with 
mercury to catch the fine gold often otherwise lost. 

The pan is filled about two-thirds full with the material to be 
tested. It is then placed under water, and any clay pieces or hard lumps 
are broken up with the hands. The pan is now raised until it is 
just below the surface of the water, and is shaken vigorously from 
side to side with a slightly circular motion to keep the lighter material 
in suspension and work it out of the pan, which is slightly tilted away 
from the operator. The motion keeps the material in agitation, allow- 
ing the heavier part to settle while the lighter is washed over the 
lip of the pan. This is brought about by alternately raising and lower- 
ing the lip above and below the surface of the water. The pan should 
occasionally be lifted from the water and shaken vigorously with the 
same circular motion, to hasten the concentration without the chance 
of some of the gold being washed out. The procedure is continued 
until only the gold and the heaviest material remain. About this 
stage of the operation it is well to transfer the panning to a tub 
of water, so that any of the gold that may be washed out can be 
recovered by panning the contents of the tub. 

The final residue is dried, and the magnetite, which always accom- 
panies placer gold, is drawn away with a magnet wrapped in a thin 



.HE colony of Matanuska was founded in May 1935, 
when 200 families from the drought-desolated Northwest were trans- 
ported by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration to virgin 
forest near Palmer on the Alaska Railroad. 

Two years later, what had been a wilderness was a lusty, distinc- 
tively American farming community. What at first had been a tent 
village was a settlement of 170 well built, good-looking frame and log 
houses of six, seven, and eight rooms. Inevitable misfits had been 
eliminated, and one hundred babies had been born. 

In 1936 homes had been built for all, and contracts were prepared 
by which colonists were able to purchase their houses and other real 
property on low payments over a period of thirty years, each colonist 
being allowed forty acres of farm land, less five of standing timber. 
A cooperative marketing association had come into existence. In its 
first six months the Association earned $51,000 and paid a dividend 
of 3V2 percent, an astonishing profit in view of the fact that the virgin 
loam was still "sour," and that the land under cultivation averaged 
seven and a half acres for each colonist. 

Under scientific management the soil's productivity should increase 
year by year. It is hoped that in time the colony will be able to supply 
the million-dollar demand for dairy and garden products lying at its 
very door along the Alaska Railroad. 

above: Aerial \'iciv oj Fahncy 

below: "Matanusl{a Valley'^ by Merlin PollocJ^ 

above: Fioriecr huniily 

below: News Plwto^) ciphers . hiwe 


above: Original Tent Village at Palmer 
below: Hauling Tent to Cabin Site 

above: Anival of U^omcn and 

center: Peeling Log Cabin 
below: 1 1 (11 vesting Oati 

above: Splitting Kindling 
center: a Community Garden 
r.rif)\v: Drying Ilay 

above: House and Barn 
center: Interior of Cabin No. ^i 
KK.i.ow: Log Cabin No. 202 

above: Cabin No. 2^ 

center: Frame Cottage No. 11^ 

BKLnw: Loo Cabin No. /<> 

ABOvt: Coluiiiit lumii) in Ciunhri 
below: Products of Community Gin den 

above: Bed and Omit Made at Matcinusl^a 
below: Woolen Garments Made at Matanus/^a 

,^ y ^-/^ ^tjff-f'*:. 


j!^* t 

above: Cabbages 

below: Alaska Berries (coins are half-dollars) 


sheet of paper. In this way the magnet may be easily cleaned by draw- 
ing it out of the paper. The coarse gold can now be picked out, and 
the fine gold recovered by the amalgamation process, or by blowing 
the sand away with a straw. An experienced panner can mine about 
one-half to three-quarters of a cubic yard of gravel a day. 

Most of the mines of the upper Koyukuk are above Bettles, the 
head of steamboat navigation. Supplies once had to be freighted sixty- 
four miles by a portage trail and about eighty miles more by water, 
at a cost of from $140 to $200 a ton. With the increased use of 
planes to transport freight, transportation costs have been greatly 
lessened. There are some thirty-nine open-cut mines, fifteen operated 
with shaft and drift methods. Not more than four men are ever 
engaged in working a single mine, and generally only two men work 
as partners. There is no modern machinery in the district. 

In this unspoiled region of Alaska live full-blood Eskimos who are 
on excellent terms of social equality with the white miners. In 1929 
Robert Marshall, of the United States Forest Service, explored the 
Koyukuk, particularly its north fork. He spent a season in Wiseman, 
and out of his experiences wrote Arctic Village, a delightful de- 
scription of daily life in a remote district of Alaska. 


The 162 miles from Fairbanks to Circle along the Steese Highway are 
made by motor coach in something less than a day (for departures, con- 
sult stage office, near Nordale Hotel). If the coach is missed, rides may 
often be caught on trucks and private automobiles. Planes make frequent 
trips to Circle Hot Springs. 

Mile posts mark the highway at frequent intervals. Gasoline and oil 
may be purchased at roadhouses marked thus (*). 

On the outskirts of Fairbanks a road branches off from the Steese 
Highway to College; a short distance beyond Fox, the Elliott Highway 
branches off to Livengood; at Central Roadhouse, a road branches off to 
Circle Hot Springs — all described in this chapter. 

The Steese Highway was constructed almost entirely under the 
direction of Gen. James G. Steese, U.S. Army, president of the Alaska 
Road Commission, 1920-1927, who rehabilitated the entire Alaska 
transportation system at the end of the World War. The Steese 
Highway prolongs the Richardson Highway (see Part II, 5) to the 


Yukon River (see Part II, 2), and attains both the northernmost 
point of the Alaska road system and its highest elevation. Throughout 
its scenically beautiful length it penetrates some of the most important 
gold-mining districts of Alaska, where an examination of highly 
mechanized placer mining is possible at close range. 

Leaving Fairbanks, the road crosses the bridge over Chena River 
on First Avenue at the foot of Cushman Street. On the right is 
ST. Joseph's hospital, founded in 1906. This handsome three-story 
building, containing fifty beds and twenty private rooms, is owned and 
operated by the Sisters of Charity of Providence, a Catholic organiza- 
tion conducting some of the largest hospitals in northwestern United 
States and in northern and eastern Canada, as well as numerous 
schools, homes for the aged, and orphanages. A new wing was added 
in 1935 at a cost of $100,000. The hospital, which receives funds from 
a number of fraternal, religious, and non-sectarian sources, is called the 
"mercy base of the Interior," as it serves an enormous area. On the 
left is the station of the alaska railroad, before which reposes a 
locomotive that once ran on the Alaska Home Railroad, a predecessor 
of the present railroad. On the outskirts of the town are the general 


At 0.5m. a branch road to the left leads to College (p.o., 61 pop., 
mostly faculty), (stage leaves Fairbanks daily), 4 miles distant. This is 
the seat of the University' of Alaska, the farthest north university 
in America, and one of the sixty-nine land-grant institutions of the 
United States. Its first land grant was made in 1906, when a reserva- 
tion near Fairbanks was set aside as a site for an agricultural experi- 
ment station. In 1915 Congress made another grant of land as a site 
for an agricultural college and school of mines, making the whole 
more than 2,200 acres. The university is located on a slight knoll 
in the rich agricultural region along the Tanana River. Within easy 
view, some 120 miles to the southwest, rises Mt. McKinley. A 
bare hundred miles to the north is the Arctic Circle, beyond which 
dance the weird flames of the aurora borealis, to the study of which 
one section of the university has devoted much time and energy. 
In 1917 the Alaska Territorial Legislature accepted the grant of 
1915 and appropriated a sum to construct buildings and purchase 
necessary equipment. The first unit of what later became the Uni- 
versity of Alaska, the Agricultural and Mechanical College, opened in 


1922 with six students. From that date, under the guidance of Dr. 
Charles E. Bunnel, its president, the university has grown to an en- 
rollment of over 200 students, offering courses to both whites and 
Natives in agriculture, geology, mining engineering and metallurgy, 
civil engineering, chemistry, home economics, education, business ad- 
ministration, and arts and letters. It is a member of the Northwest 
Association of Secondary and Higher Schools. The university has 
published several books, including Wickersham's Bibliography of 
Alaskan Literature. The students publish a college paper, Farthest 
North Collegian (monthly, $1 yearly). The Uni\t;rsity Museum 
(adm. free, apply administration office) contains a number of interest- 
ing exhibits relating to Alaska history and pre-history, and has the 
original printing press on which was printed what is often referred 
to as Alaska's first newspaper, the Yukon Press, first published by 
Gordon Bettles at Fort Adams on the Yukon on January i, 1894. The 
first issue had eight pages, included quotations from Tennyson, 
Whittier and Oliver Wendell Holmes, excerpts from newspapers of 
the States, and such items of local interest as this: "It is said that 
alcohol is an antidote for scurvy. If reports are true there must be 
a great deal of scurvy at Fortymile this winter." At the time the 
paper was first published there were only seventeen white men and 
one white woman residing along the Yukon from St. Michael to 

The university maintains two agricultural experiment stations, one 
at College and one at Matanuska. Many adults in and around Fair- 
banks during their enforced winter idleness enroll in the university. 

The Steese Highway continues past the road to College through 
a number of farms and scattered fields of wheat and other grains. 
Engineer Creek 8.2m. (p.o., 870 alt.) is the beginning of the placer 
goldmining region, and piles of rock dug out by miners line the road. 

The largest operations are carried on by the Fairbanks Exploration 
Company, which is removing vast quantities of frozen soil and gravel 
in its search for gold. It is estimated that from a single one of its 
mines one-third as much earth is moved in a few seasons as was 
removed during the construction of the Panama Canal. 

Placer gold, a derivative of anciently eroded quartz veins, occurs 
in the frozen gravels of former stream channels now buried from a 
few feet to over a hundred feet under frozen gravel, tundra, and 
muck. The gold, which usually is concentrated at or near bedrock, 


is in free stace, in panicles varying in size from mere specks to wheat 
grains. Occasionally, sizeable nuggets are found. 

The first step in the wholesale search for the little yellow flakes 
is stripping the surface layer of decayed moss and vegetable material 
by means of jets of water from hydraulic "giants." The removal of 
this insulating blanket, which varies from 6 to 24 inches in thickness, 
leaves the underlying frozen muck exposed to the warmth of the 
atmosphere. The rays of the sun thaw this at the rate of several inches 
a day. The accumulation of thawed material is removed every day 
or two by streams of water under heavy pressure — from bank inward 
and from top downward. 

After the muck has been removed by the stripping process, a year 
or two is spent in thawing the frozen gravel before dredging can 
commence. The cold-water thawing method used today is the result of 
many years of research and experimentation. Cold water is pumped 
through pipes extending from the surface to bedrock and spaced from 
16 to 32 feet apart. The distributing pipes are laid in the fall and the 
driving of thaw points is started in the spring as soon as the tempera- 
ture of the water reaches 36°, or higher. The points are pieces of 
three-quarter-inch pipe with a chisel bit, perforated on two sides to 
allow a flow of water. The water pumped into the ground is led 
back to the pump after it seeps to the surface and is used over and 
over again. 

In places where there are over 40 feet to bedrock, iV2-inch open-end 
pipes are set in holes drilled during the winter with electrically- 
operated Keystone drills. The time required to thaw the gravel varies 
from 60 to 120 days, depending upon the depth and character of the 

Water for stripping and thawing is supplied by the Davidson 
Ditch, one of the longest ditches of its kind in the world. It carries 
the water from the headwaters of the Chatanika River, ninety miles 
across the hills, creeks, and valleys, and its operation requires the 
service of forty men. A patrol is maintained day and night, for a 
break in the ditch means suspension of operations until it is repaired. 

After two or three seasons of stripping and thawing, the mighty 
dredges begin their task. The dredge is a combined excavating and 
concentrating plant and looks like an animated houseboat. An endless 
chain of mammoth steel buckets — a hundred or more, each weighing 
more than a ton — digs the gravel and delivers it to the upper end of a 


revolving screen through which the goldladen gravel passes to tables 
or riffles. The oversize gravel is discharged onto an inclined belt- 
conveyor called the "stacker," which carries it to the tailings pile. 

The dredge is held in position by a spud at the stern which can 
be lowered or raised. Digging starts at the surface, the bucket line 
being moved in a horizontal arc of about 60 degrees by swinging the 
entire dredge with cables at the bow about the spud at the stern. When 
the full width has been dug, the bucket line is lowered slightly and 
another cut is taken across the width of the face. This is continued 
until bedrock is reached, 12 to 70 feet below the surface. The dredge 
is then moved forward four to eight feet and digging resumed. Some 
dredges advance 1,000 feet a season, and some nearly a mile, depend- 
ing on the width and depth of the cut. 

The quicksilver in the riffles quickly gleans the gold and forms 
amalgam which is cleaned up every ten days or two weeks, taken to 
the melting room, retorted, melted, sampled, assayed, and shipped 
to the United States mint, where it is paid for by the government 
at the current market, which in 1939 was $35 per troy ounce. 

Power for the operations is supplied from the Fairbanks Explora- 
tion Company's plant at Fairbanks. The plant is equipped with two 
1,000-horsepower boilers, three turbo generators of 3,000 kilowatts ca- 
pacity each, and one of 500 kilowatts. The Healy River mine, the 
largest coal mine in Alaska, located on the Alaska Railroad 112 miles 
from Fairbanks, supplies the plant with sub-bituminous coal. 

In the narrow valley of Coldstream 10.5 m. (p.o., 750 alt.) was one 
of the most famous placer deposits in Alaska, from which millions of 
dollars in gold were taken out. Fox 10.7m. (p.o., 800 alt.), once an 
important pioneer mining camp, is now almost abandoned. Berry 
(p.o., 75 pop. est. 1938), a mining camp on Ester Creek about lom. 
northwest of Fairbanks, was named for Clarence Berry, a prosperous 
miner here in 1904. A half mile from town is hydraulicking against 
an 150 foot face, where a large number of prehistoric bones are being 
uncovered. One of the largest draglines in the world is operating 
here in rich placer deposit. 

A short distance beyond Fox on the left is the junction with Elliott 
Highway (named after Major Malcolm Elliott, who inaugurated its 
construction) completed in 1936. It leads from Fairbanks to Olnes 
20 m., a mining and fur-farming center. Livengood 85m. (p.o., 100 pop. 


est. 1938) a placer-mining district on Livengood Creek, a tributary 
of the Tolovana River, is 55 miles from Fairbanks by air. Livengood 
and other gold creeks in the vicinity are roughly estimated to have 
produced $7,000,000 by individual operations, and there still remain 
some $21,000,000 in ground suitable for dredging and dragline opera- 
tions. Gold at Livengood Creek was discovered in the summer of 1914 
by N. R. Hudson and Jay Livengood, both still actively engaged in 
mining in the camp. Some prospecting of quartz properties has been 
done in the district. 

The Steese Highway continues past the junction with the Elliott 
Highway to Gilmore 13.8m. (i,oooalt., 4opop. est. 1933). Just north is 
Pedro Creek, where the first gold in the Fairbanks district was dis- 
covered. The story goes that a hunter in this vicinity shot a moose 
that had a gold nugget wedged in the cleft of its hoof. The hunter 
backtracked the trail to the point where the moose had picked up the 
nugget, and made a strike. Meehan (p.o., 60 pop.) is 30m. north of 
Fairbanks on Discovery Creek. The road follows Pedro Creek, climb- 
ing rapidly to Cleary Summit 20.2m. (2,30oalt.), from which are 
visible the Tanana Valley, the Alaska Range, and Mt. McKinley, one 
hundred and eighty miles distant. Here is Summit Roadhouse, serving 
excellent meals. The wilderness of peaks stretching away on the north 
almost to the Arctic Circle are for the most part unnamed. At Cleary 
City 25m. (p.o., i,oooalt., 52 pop. est. 1933) on the other side of the 
summit, a gold dredge is in operation. A few shacks mark what was 
once a roaring mining camp supporting no less than seventeen saloons. 
Chatanika Townsite 27.5 m. (1,000 ait.) is a permanent camp of the 
large company which is dredging the gold-bearing gravels upon which 
the old town rested. The modern town of Chatanika* 29.1m. (p.o., 
63 pop.) is a center of placer operations. The siphon crossed at 33m, 
is said to be the longest of its size in the world. Through it the 
enormous quantity of water needed in dredging operations flows — 
uphill. Chat\xika River 38.6m. (86oalt.) is part of the Tolovana, 
Lingo's Roadmouse 41m. (92oalt.) is a survival of pioneer days, where 
excellent meals are served. From 56.6m. (i,48oalt.) is visible Cassiar 
Roadhouse (i,30oalt.), on the oposite bank of the Chatanika. The 
proprietor rows across the river to meet his guests. At Faith Creek 
69.8m. (i,48oalt.) is a roadhouse, an important stop on the winter 
sled route. Near by is the junction of the three creeks (Faith, Hope, 


Charity) that form the Chatanika River. Just below the junction is 
the intake for the 80-mile long Davidson Ditch. Twelve Mile Sum- 
mit 86.6m. (3,225alt.) was named by prospectors because it lay 12 
miles southwest of their workings on Birch Creek. This is the divide 
between the Tanana and Yukon rivers. Herds of caribou, estimated 
at 50,000 head, sometimes pass over this summit during the autumnal 
migration (late August, early September). Such caribou crossings as 
this are posted, and hunters are forbidden by the game commission 
to shoot caribou in the vicinity. Twelve Mile Roadhouse* 89.5 m. 
(2,45oalt.) has a large and comfortable inn, serving excellent meals, 
and is about midway between Fairbanks and Circle. One of the inn's 
goats is fond of tobacco, and will appreciate the proffer of a cigarette. 
At North Fork 94m. (2,100 alt., 36 pop.) is the north branch of 
Twelve Mile Creek. Across the valley from 105m. is a hydraulic mine 
that is still in operation, although about $20,000 annually has been 
recovered here since 1903. Eagle Summit 109.2m. (3,880 alt.) is the 
highest point on the entire Alaska road system. In winter, blizzards 
sweeping down from the Arctic make its passage by dog team a diffi- 
cult and hazardous undertaking. Even in summer the traveler occa- 
sionally encounters a flurry of snow. Here, although it is south of the 
Arctic Circle, the midnight sun can be seen on June 21. At 115.5m. 
a short side road leads to Miller House* (p.o., 2,iooalt.), about a 
half mile distant, where good meals are served. The roadhouse is 
a center for the many miners in the district, as well as an informal 
employment bureau and gossip exchange. Mammoth Creek 117.2m. 
(i,82oalt.) is so named from the tusks and bones of prehistoric crea- 
tures found here. The frozen soil has preserved vegetation and animal 
life common in Alaska 20,000 and more years ago. The American 
Museum of Natural History, in cooperation with the University of 
Alaska, has secured thousands of specimens exposed by mining opera- 
tions here and elsewhere in the district. In a single season over four 
hundred specimens of stone artifacts were uncovered, and a number 
of stone cores corresponding to those of Mongolian dune-dweller cul- 
ture. Many specimens of the early Alaska bison (very similar to the 
present-day species but about twice as large) were secured, as well as 
some two hundred specimens of the early Alaska horse — about the size 
of existing Iceland ponies — one of which was found with flesh, fat, and 
hide adhering to three legs. The flesh had become desiccated to the 
consistency of leather, but the fat tissue was eagerly eaten by a prowl- 


ing clog, who seemed to suffer no ill eflecis from his 20,000 year old 
dinner. Tusks of the Alaska mammoth and mastodon, measuring 
from seven to twelve feet, were found, as were skulls and leg bones 
of the Alaska lion. The prehistoric wolves, caribou, and moose were 
very much like their descendants today; but one skull of a bear was 
found that was twice the size of that of the largest contemporary 
Kodiak bear. 

At Central* 129m. (p.o., i,22oalt., 50pop. est. 19^8) is a roadhouse 
that provides excellent accommodations and meals for travelers. The 
proprietor also maintains a trading post for outfitting miners and trap- 
pers. From Central House a road leads nine miles to Circle Springs 
138m. (p.o., i7pop.), one hour by air from Fairbanks. Here in the 
heart of the Circle mining district has been built a summer and 
winter resort centering around the hot springs. The waters contain, 
among other chemicals, silica, iron, aluminum, calcium, potassium, 
bicarbonate radical, chloride radical and sulphate radical. Under the 
management of Frank M. Leach a large, modern hotel and thirty-two 
cottages have been built to provide accommodations for 160 guests. 
A bathhouse with dressing rooms and pools has been constructed. All 
bathing facilities at the resort are supplied with water from the 
springs, which flow at the rate of 400 gallons a minute, with a tem- 
perature of 139°. 

In addition to its health value, the water has been pressed into serv- 
ice as a heating agent for the hotel and other buildings. Hot-water 
pipes running through the buildings give a constant heat and are able 
to maintain an inside temperature of 70° or more when the thermom- 
eter outside goes as low as 72° below zero. 

Five acres of gardens are raised at the springs during the long 
growing season, provided by the almost constant sunlight of summer 
aided by the warming influence of the springs. Greenhouses, heated by 
the springs, provide produce from April until late September. 

Besides supplying the hotel dining room and the cottages with 
fresh vegetables, the gardens furnish produce to the many mining 
camps in the immediate vicinity as well as to the camps in the Coal 
Creek-Woodchopper district. Lettuce, beets, carrots, cabbage, cauli- 
flower, broccoli, potatoes, and other vegetables grow abundantly. Let- 
tuce, that takes a much longer time to mature in California, is ready 
for the table six weeks after it has been planted at the springs. 


Circle Springs is the distributing and social center for a busy min- 
ing area. In the Circle district about four hundred men are engaged 
in mining. Many of these men and their families spend the winter at 
the springs or at the camps near by. The Coal Creek-Woodchopper 
district, a few minutes by air from the springs, employs from eighty 
to one hundred men during the mining season. 

Transportation to the springs is largely by the Steese Highway dur- 
ing the summer months, but is limited to airplane service the rest of 
the year. An average of a plane a day stops at the resort. Many Fair- 
banks people fly to the springs for week-end and longer vacations. 
At times, during the summer when the highway is open, several 
hundred people are at the resort over a week end. A long-wave radio 
transmitter provides communication with Fairbanks and other Alaska 
communities. A telephone line runs from the springs to near-by min- 
ing camps and to Circle. 

A large graded aviation field is maintained at Circle Springs. The 
field has been enlarged and improved to facilitate ski landings during 
the winter. Plans have been considered to extend the auto road thirty- 
five miles to tap the Coal Creek-Woodchopper mining camps. 

Circle Hot Springs was discovered in the fall of 1897 by George 
Growe, who was prospecting on Deadwood Creek. While hunting, 
Growe wounded a moose and trailed him for miles. The moose 
crossed a small stream, which Growe noticed was unusually warm. He 
traced its source and located the springs, where the water was flowing 
from the hillside in the pretty oval that is now the site of the resort. 

While Growe was at the springs the next April he found some 
attractive wild plants — wild parsnips. Not knowing that the roots of 
the plant are poisonous, he cooked and ate some, and became violently 
ill. His health failed, and he died some years later. 

Frank Leach, owner and operator of the Circle Hot Springs, has 
been in the district thirty-three years, and at the springs twenty-nine 

The Steese Highway continues from the junction of the Circle 
Hot Springs road to Birch Creek 148.3m. (gioalt.), where vegetables 
grown in the proprietor's own garden (rare in Alaska) are served 
at roadhouse meals. From 161 m. is an excellent view of the Yukon 
River, four miles distant. Circle 162.6m. (p.o., 90oalt., 5opop.) is the 
junction of the highway with the Yukon River. Established in 1898, 


it was named Circle because the gold rushers mistakenly thought it 
lay on the Arctic Circle — actually it lies about 50 miles south. The 
town is only the shell of its former self, and many of its inhabitants 
are Natives. Here Steese Highway ends, connecting with river boats 
that in summer operate up and down the Yukon (see Part II, 2). 
Before the development of the Alaska Railroad, the highway system, 
and the advent of the plane, gold seekers journeyed between Dawson 
and Nome by way of this river, and most of the freight for the Interior 
came by way of river boats. 



Kenai Peninsula — Katmai National Monument — Kodiak — Alaska 
Peninsula — Aleutian Islands — Pribilof Islands. 


By reason of its scanty population, southwestern Alaska has few trans- 
portation facilities. Frequent dense fogs and lack of ground stations have 
deterred plane companies from starting regular service along the Aleutians. 
No regularly scheduled steamer service existed in 1939, and passengers 
were transported by freight vessels that had no regular ports of call. There 
will no doubt eventually be established, however, regular passenger service 
from Seward to Dillingham, when a steamer will visit ports on Kenai 
Peninsula, the islands of Afognak and Kodiak, then skirt the southern 
shore of the Alaska Peninsula and the adjacent islands, following the 
Aleutian chain west as far as Umnak — the island next west of Unalaska. 
From May to October such a schedule would include ports on Bristol Bay, 
and possibly Platinum and Bethel. During the winter months the shallow 
waters of Bristol Bay freeze, making water transportation impossible. The 
trip from Seward to Dillingham and return averages about 3,600 miles 
and takes from 22 to 30 days. Dillingham is readily reached from Anchor- 
age by plane (service frequent but unscheduled) in about 6 hours. 



Steamers do not touch at the Katmai National Monument, which con- 
tains the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, as there is no port, no settle- 
ment, white or Native, and hence no accommodation. Inaccessible also 
are the Aleutian Islands that stretch over 500 miles west of Umnak to 
Attu, the westernmost island belonging to the United States. 

UNTIL 1938 transportation "to the westward" was furnished largely 
by the SS. Stan-, a converted halibut schooner of only 525 tons burden, 
that sailed from Seward with freight and passengers once a month. 
Passengers were unanimous in cursing her violent motion and 
cramped quarters, but now that she no longer makes the trip, Alaskans 
recall her with regret. The first-class quarters consisted of a small 
dining saloon, out of which opened directly two toilets, encircled with 
tiny cabins not fully partitioned off, each containing three bunks and 
a washbasin. An important article of furniture fixed to each bunk was 
an iron bracket holding a large pasteboard cup, into which most 
passengers rendered up at least a portion of each meal. Few passengers 
traveled on the lurchy little Starr for pleasure; however, every pas- 
senger had an interesting story, and the tales told around the dining 
table when supper was cleared away had no equal anywhere in the 

The country "to the westward" stretches hundreds of miles with- 
out a single tree, has the longest and straightest single line of volcanoes 
(some 50 or 60) anywhere in the world, a few of them very active, 
is surprisingly warm, bathed as it is by the Japan Current. This coun- 
try, with its tiny settlements and their turnip-topped Russian orthodox 
churches, with its teeming wild life and its breath-taking scenic 
grandeur, is worth the fortitude it takes to make the trip by any 
steamer available. Whatever the vessel, it will have accommodations 
that Vitus Bering, the Columbus of these parts, would have considered 
the uttermost in luxury. 

Leaving Seward, the first port is Portlock (p.o.) about 100 miles 
southwest of Seward, named in 1888 after Captain Nathaniel Port- 
lock, English fur trader, who about 1786 first remarked deposits of 
coal here. Fox are bred on near-by islands. Selixdvia (p.o., 379 pop.) 
is a town on Kachemak Bay. Its principal industries are lishing and 
canning, and there are veins of coal near by. Seldovia has the only 
landlocked harbor around the shoreline of Kenai Peninsula between 
Seward and Anchorage large enough to accommodate an ocean-going 


Steamer. It is thus the central port of distribution for Cook Inlet towns, 
including the Homer agricultural district of some 500,000 acres and 
stock-raising country. Its name is derived from the Russian seldovoi 
(herring), and it still maintains two herring-curing plants and three 
salmon canneries. The town is also a central point for big-game 
hunters of bear, moose, and mountain sheep. Extensive lignite coal 
beds underlie all the area. Many of the beds exposed in the cliffs 
along the north shore of Kachemak Bay have burned, baking the clay 
and shale about them to bright orange and red. West of Seldovia, 
across the mouth of Cook Inlet, is Mr. Iliamna (io,oi7alt.). Across 
the bay is Homer (p.o., 207pop. est. 1938). Gold, copper, and coal 
are found in the vicinity, and there is much fishing and fur raising. 
Its population (35) as listed by the census of 1930 gives no hint of its 
growing importance. By 1937, 150 farmers had arrived in this fertile 
valley, and many more applications were on file. The Alaska Coop- 
erative Association was planning to install 200 families in the area. 
Even before the arrival of these new settlers, the town provided a 
living for a scattering of farmers and had eighteen miles of road and a 
telephone system with thirty-five subscribers. Much of the land is 
treeless, all of it fertile, and most of it easy to cultivate. Almost un- 
believable stories of bumper crops find their backing in the sober 
records of farmers in the settlement. The Methodist orphanage o£ 
Seward took over a farm at Homer in 1936, and cut sixty tons of wild 
hay, in addition to raising a large quantity of potatoes and garden 
truck. One Seattle produce house has a standing ofTer for Homer 
turnips at a premium of a cent a pound higher than Seattle prices. 
A large coal deposit on the reefs now provides fuel for two schools 
already in the settlement. Farmers boast of the climate. Official 
"weather reports for Homer during January, 1936, showed eleven con- 
secutive days when the temperature was above 40 degrees. Only one 
frost was reported for the month. There were five inches of rain. 
February first found pussy willows in bloom and wild celery sprouting, 
grass green and strawberry plants beginning to grow — this in a Febru- 
ary that found even the mild coast of Oregon and Washington 
fighting an unprecedentedly cold season, and the Middle West, from 
which most of the Homer farmers have come, literally buried in snow. 
The completion of the highway already half built between Seward 
and Homer might settle the question of transporting the produce of 
a large farming colony. If it is completed the government will have 


made another step in its agricultural development of the Territory. 
If it isn't — there is still room for the agricultural pioneer. Once one 
of the great trapping regions of Alaska, the country near Homer 
has seen, with the settling of the country in the last two decades, 
depletion and, in some cases, extermination of the more valuable fur 
bearers. Marten has become extinct, the fox is extremely rare, and 
mink, beaver, and otter are much less numerous than a generation 

NiMLCHiK (p.o., i24pop.) is a fur-farming and fishing village on 
the east coast of Cook Inlet, about 40 miles south of Kenai. About 
1830 a number of "colonial citizens," or superannuated employees 
of the Russian America Company, were ordered to settle here, and a 
few of their descendants remain. Kasilof (p.o., 45 pop.) is a Native 
settlement 20 miles south of Kenai. On or near this site Russians 
built in 1786 two log houses surrounded by a stockade, called St. 
George, probably after one of the Company's ships. In 1937 a party 
surveying 30,000 acres for homesteading purposes on the Kenai Pen- 
insula found near Kasilof the remains of a partially buried village, 
covered by overburden estimated to be at least three hundred years 
old. A partial excavation showed 31 well-preserved houses, each about 
15 by 22 feet and 14 feet high. The cabin walls were approximately 
four inches thick, made of beach sand, bricks, logs, and sod. Each 
had a fireplace in the center. The odd thing about this lost village 
was that it was many miles from the coastline. It was thought at the 
time to be of Eskimo origin, although Eskimos are not known to 
have penetrated so far south. The aboriginal inhabitants of the Pen- 
insula are at present mostly Kenai Indians, a branch of the great 
Athapascan family. The Kenai in turn are divided into several dif- 
ferent groups, speaking slightly diflerent dialects. Kenai (p.o., 
286 pop.) is a Native settlement, having a roadhouse, a Greek Ortho- 
dox church, and a Protestant mission. In 1791 Grigor Konovalof, in 
command of the St. George, built a fort here which he named St. 
Nicholas, and in 1869 the United States maintained a garrison. Across 
Cook Inlet, west of Kenai, is Mr. Redoubt (io,20oalt.). 

All these settlements lie on Kenai Peninsula, which juts out of the 
southern coast into the Gulf of Alaska. It is about 150 miles long, and 
so irregularly shaped that its coastline is more than 1,000 miles. It is 
larger than Massachusetts, with a no more rigorous climate, and con- 


tains at least 75 percent as much good farm land. It has gold, game, 
and fur; grassy plains, forested valleys, peaks and glaciers, clear trout- 
filled streams, hills filled with goat and sheep, lowland forests with 
moose, and land and waterfowl. 

Here were some early and well-known settlements in Russian 
America. Past this peninsula came Captain James Cook in his search 
for the northwest passage, turning back again at Turnagain Arm. But 
the cartographers attacked Cook, charging him with hastily exploding 
their theories of the northwest passage, and of being a mere "pursuer 
of peltry." They pointed to his "river" (Cook Inlet) and exclaimed, 
"What is that but the strait of Admiral de Fonte, who passed from 
east to west thereby.''" George Vancouver, a hard-headed Norfolk salt 
who had sailed on Cook's expedition, pointed the prow of the 
Discovery into Cook's "river" in 1794, and finally put an end to the 
theories of the mapmakers by giving the "river" its proper designation, 
of inlet. Few white men visited the district again until the mining 
excitement of 1896 in the Hope and Sunrise regions. When this excite- 
ment subsided, the peninsula was again neglected, save by hunters and 
a few prospectors. With the permanent settlement of Alaska and the 
building of the Alaska Railroad came a realization of its agricultural 
importance. A resettlement plan was drawn up in 1937 to aid one 
hundred families of Cordova, who would be left without resources 
by the closing of the Kennecott mines, to settle on the peninsula. The 
plan aimed to secure Federal aid without the incurring of excessive 
debts by individuals, to build a cannery, a cold-storage plant, and a 
sawmill, and to pack fish, berries, and vegetables for community use. 

Leaving Kenai Peninsula, steamers usually head for the Afognak- 
Kodiak Island group. The town of Afognak (p.o., 298 pop., mostly 
Natives), on a southern point of the island, consists of a row of dwell- 
ings along a curving beach. There is a Federal school for Natives, and 
trapping and fox raising are the principal industries. The town was 
founded during the first quarter of the nineteenth century under the 
name of Rutkovsky by pensioned employees of the Russian America 
Company. Afognak is a Native name. Separated by Kupreanof Strait 
(named after the governor who succeeded Wrangell in 1836) is Kodiak 
Island, discovered on September 8, 1763, by Glotov, a Russian fur 
hunter, who anchored in Alitak Bay. The Native name was Kikhtak, 
the Innuit word for island, and the tribe Kaniag. The name Captain 


Cook got from the Russians, Kodiak (pronounced Kadyak), probably 
was a combination of the two. English-speaking map makers used 
the Russian spelling Kodiak, but pronounced it English fashion rather 
than Russian fashion, where the unaccented o becomes a flat a. The 
phonetic spelling, Kadiak, still occasionally survives. The island, lOO 
miles long and 50 miles wide, contains many large brown Kodiak 
bears, said to be the largest carnivorous animal on earth. The largest 
bear ever killed was shot on Kodiak Island, its hide measuring 11 feet 
3 inches. This bear weighed fully 1500 pounds, with hind feet 8 by 15 
inches, a head 26 inches across, and a hide that alone weighed 135 

The first Russian settlement on Kodiak was made by Shelikof at 
Three Saints Bay, named for his ship. In 1792 the settlement was re- 
moved to the present site of the town of Kodiak, close to a good supply 
of timber and in a sheltered harbor, and called by the Russians Paul's 
Harbor. Previous to the establishment of New Archangel, or Sitka, 
this was the headquarters of the Russian America Company. Sauer 
thus describes Shelikof 's establishment around 1794: 

"This establishment consists of about 50 Russians, including the 
officers of the Company. . . . The buildings consist of five houses 
after the Russian fashion, barracks laid out in different apartments, 
like the boxes in a coffee house, on either side, with different offices: 
An office of appeal to settle disputes, levy fines and punish offenders 
by regular trial; here Delareff presides; and I believe that few courts 
of justice pass a sentence with more impartiality: An office for receival 
and delivery, both for the Company and for tribute: The commissaries' 
department for distributing the regulated portions of provisions: 
Counting-house, etc.: all in this building, at one end of which is 
Delareff's habitation. Another building contains the hostages. Besides 
which there are storehouses, warehouses, rope-walk, smithy, carpenter 
shop, and cooperage. 

"This and the nearer islands are inhabited by about 1,300 grown 
males and 1,200 youths, with about the same number of females, ac- 
cording to the register kept by Shelikof's Establishment, now under 
the direction of Yefstrat Ivanitch Delareff, a Greek; who informed me 
that he had now out on the chase for the company upwards of 600 
double baidars of Natives, each containing two or three men. These 
are divided into six parties, each under the direction of a single 
Peredofshik, or Russian leader. Besides these, small parties are sent out 


daily to fish for halibut, cod, etc. The females are employed in curing 
and drying the fish; in digging, washing and drying edible roots; 
in collecting useful plants, berries, etc., and in making the dresses of 
the Natives, and also for the Russians. About 200 of the daughters 
of the Native chiefs are kept at the Russian habitations near our 
anchoring place as hostages for the obedience of the Natives; and as 
far as I could learn, they are satisfied with their treatment. The males 
are less satisfied; and at the first arrival of the Russians, seemed 
inclined to oppose their landing on the island; but Shelikof, surprising 
their women while collecting berries, carried them as prisoners to his 
habitation, and kept them as hostages, only returning wives for daugh- 
ters, or the younger children of the chiefs. Every considerable habita- 
tion of the Natives had large baidars capable of containing 40 or 50 
men. These were all purchased by Shelikof, and the Natives now have 
only small canoes, none of which carry more than three. They seem 
reconciled to the rules made by the present chief of the company, 
Delareff, who governs with the strictest justice, the Natives as well as 
the Russians, and has established a school where the young Natives 
are taught Russian, reading and writing. He allows some of the female 
hostages to visit their relatives for a certain time; these returning, 
others are allowed to go home; and on application of anyone for his 
child, it is not refused. The whole number of hostages is about 300. 

"The males are employed in the chase in turn, as are also the 
females: I mean, for the benefit of the community; for they lay in an 
amazing stock of provisions, roots, berries, etc., sufficient for the 
winter's supply of the whole island, both Natives and Russians; a 
circumstance which convinces the savages that the Russians are not 
their absolute enemies; for Delareff says that they never laid in a 
supply of food for the winter till the Russians taught them; but in bad 
weather were obliged to collect cockles, mussels, and other shellfish, 
or the refuse of the sea. 

"Luxuries such as tobacco, beads, linen, shirts, and nankeen dresses, 
they pay for in particular. I saw that such of the parties as were 
successful in procuring rich skins received a certain payment; for each 
sea otter, a string of beads four feet long; and for other furs in pro- 
portion; and that only the food and seal skins were the property of the 
community, of which the Natives enjoy the greater share, being by 
far the most numerous; and seal skins are used bv the Natives to 


mend their baidars, and to make new ones; in the latter case, they are 
purchased for furs, foxes, marmots, otters, etc., or by service. 

"The natives call themselves Soo-oo-it, and their magicians are 
Kanghemcnt. I could obtain no name from them for the Almighty; 
though they say there is a superior being who has the command of all 
the spirits; and that the wrath of these spirits is only to be appeased 
by offerings, and in some cases their slaves are sacrificed, but very 
seldom; for all the prisoners they take in their wars (which are almost 
perpetual, one tribe against another) become slaves, and are subject to 
ill treatment, particularly from the women. The female prisoners are 
all slaves, and are sold from one tribe to another for trinkets, instru- 
ments, etc. Not only their prisoners, however, are their laborers or 
slaves, but orphans become the property of those who bring them up, 
and are frequently redeemed by relatives of the parents; especially 
such as were inhabitants of other islands. 

"The dwellings of the Natives differ from those of Oonalashka. 
They are but very little sunk in the ground, and have a door fronting 
the east, made of framed seal skin; a fireplace in the middle; a hole 
over it through the roof, which serves both for the discharge of smoke 
and the admission of light. The sides, partitioned off for sleeping and 
sitting places, are covered with grass mats, much coarser made than 
those of Oonalashka. Each hut has a small apartment attached to it, 
which serves for a vapor bath; stones are heated in the open air and 
carried inside, where heat is increased to any degree by steam from 
water poured on the hot stones. 

"The customs of these savages are nearly allied to those of the 
Oonalashkans. They have the same kind of instruments, darts, and 
boats or baidars; but much worse made; nor are they so active on 
the water. Their dances are proper tournaments, with a knife or lance 
in the right hand, and a rattle in the left; the rattle is made of a 
number of thin hoops, one inside the other, covered with white 
feathers, and having the red bills of the sea parrot suspended on very 
short threads; which being shaken, strike together, and make a very 
considerable noise; their music is the tambourine, and their songs are 
warlike. They are frequently much hurt, but never lose their temper 
on account of it. In these dances they use masks, or paint their faces 
very fantastically. The dances of the women are only jumping to and 
fro upon their toes, with a blown bladder in their hand, which they 


throw at anyone whom they wish to dance with, and who always 
accepts the challenge. 

"The first character is the athletic and skillful warrior; the second, 
the fleet and expert hunter; the former enjoys his prisoners and the 
booty of his enemy; the latter has his wives, laborers and slaves by 
purchase, and the ability he possesses to maintain them. The most 
favored of women is she who has the greatest number of children. 
The women seem very fond of their offspring; dreading the effects 
of war and the dangers of the chase; and some of them bring up 
their male children in a very effeminate manner, and are happy to 
see them taken by the chiefs to gratify their unnatural desires. Such 
youths are dressed like women, and are taught all their domestic 

"There is no ceremony in marriage : the ability to support a woman 
gives the authority to take them, with their consent; in which case 
the couple are conducted by the relatives of the girl to the vapor bath, 
which is heated and they are left together; but some present is 
generally made to the girl's father and mother. I enquired whether 
they lent their wives to each other? They told me. No; unless they 
were barren, and desired it; if they then had a child, it became the 
property of its father. 

"No other ceremony is observed at births than washing the child, 
and giving it a name. 

"The dead body of a chief is embalmed with moss, and buried. 
The most confidential of his laborers are sacrificed and buried with 
him; also his instruments of war or chase, and some food. Numbers 
of the natives are baptized, but Delareff, director of the Company, 
would not allow our priest to compel any of them to become Chris- 
tians; however he assisted him in persuading as many as he could. 
Such as were at the school willingly embraced the Greek religion, 
as did also numbers of the women. 

"The dresses of the natives are the same as at Oonalashka, but 
worse made; they are open around the neck, and have but very few 
ornaments. They are very fond of blue beads and amber, and carry 
on a trade with the natives around Cook's River, where they purchase 
their baidars and canoes for trinkets, provisions, and oils of whales and 
seals. They use darts and lances headed with slate, with which they 
kill the sea animals. They also use poison to their arrows, and aconite 
is the drug adopted for this purpose. Selecting the roots of such plants 


as grow alone, the roots are dried and pounded, or grated, water is 
then poured on them and they are kept in a warm place until fer- 
mented; when in this state, the men anoint the points of their arrows 
or lances with it, which makes the wound inflicted mortal. 

"The most valuable fur is that of the sea otter, called by the 
hunters here and in Russia, Morskoi Bobre. The fur of the young 
ones is rough and long, of a light brown color (like a young bear 
cub), and is called Medvedka, the diminutive of bear: this is of no 
value: the middle sized are darker and valuable; and these are called 
Koshlok; but the most valuable are what is called Matka, or mother; 
the largest are about five feet long, with rich fur nearly black, mixed 
with longer hairs of a glossy white. The fur is upright, not inclining 
in any way, from an inch to an inch and a half long. I had a young 
sea otter dressed, and it tasted just like sucking pig. There are no 
more on the coast of Kamtshatka: they are now very seldom seen 
on the Aleutian Islands; and of late, they have forsaken the Shumagin 
Islands; and I think, from the value of the skin having caused such 
devastation among them, and the pursuit after them being so keen, 
added to their situation between latitudes of 45 and 60 degrees, that 
15 years hence there will hardly exist any more of this species." 

The peculiarity in sexual customs described by Sauer is confirmed 
by Sarachef in his Account of a Voyage of Discovery, published in 
1806, where he relates, "One of these Kadyakers, who attended this 
hunter, and appeared to be about forty years of age, differed altogether 
from the others, having the appearance of a female, with his nose 
punctured, and rings of pearl-enamel in his ears. We learnt from the 
hunter that this man supplied the place of a wife to one of the 
islanders and performed all the offices belonging to the female sex." 

The present-day town of Kodiak (p.o., 442 pop.) is the largest in 
southwestern Alaska, and is about 200 miles southeast of Seward. On 
the knoll above is a quaint Russian church and white cottages; below 
along the waterfront are warehouses, wharves, and stores overlooking 
a bay with wooded islands and headlands. Like a wall protecting the 
harbor from the rough waters of Shelikof Strait rise dark rugged 
mountains. The town has a public school, a Baptist orphanage and 
church, a Russian Orthodox church, two hotels, and two general 
stores. There are many salmon canneries in the vicinity, foxes are 
bred at Eagle Harbor, stock is raised, and hunting parties equipped. 


At Port Hobron is a whaling station. An appropriation of $77,000 
(authorized in 1935) provides for the construction of a 22-foot channel 
and an anchorage basin as soon as a cold storage plant is completed. 
In 1936, 9,768 tons of commerce, valued at $1,659,000, passed through 
this port. Work will start in 1939 on a huge naval and airplane base. 

In June, 1912, Mr. Katmai (6,970 alt.), a volcano 100 miles distant 
on the mainland, suddenly blew off its top and filled the air with 
sharp volcanic ash that blanketed fields and villages, crushed roofs, 
and changed the green island of Kodiak into a gray-brown desert 
overnight. For forty-eight hours inky blackness enveloped the town, 
rent by occasional tongues of flame, split by peals of thunder. Captain 
Perry of the revenue cutter Manning rescued from four to five 
hundred people, but approximately two hundred Uves were lost in 
the smaller villages. A year later, dust still filled the air and lay in 
huge drifts on the hillsides. Fragments of pumice covered the shore. 
The bears had become bald, their fur eaten away by the lye leached 
from the volcanic ash on their hides, by the rain. Most of the human 
inhabitants had returned to their homes, but lack of grass prevented 
the return of cattle, and ash-clogged rivers seriously interfered with 
the annual upstream migration on which the fishing industry depends. 
Today there is no obvious evidence of the eruption of 1912 — the hills 
are green again, the trees are free of ash. But under the thick growth 
of moss lining the dead lower limbs of the older spruce trees can still 
be found almost an inch of ash, and hundreds of dead cottonwoods, 
now rotting away, stand as markers of the event. 

The only good done by the ash storm was the improvement of 
roads, as volcanic ash makes the best kind of roadbed. Excellent roads 
run from Kodiak to near-by points: the Mill Bay Road, constructed 
by Russians early in the nineteenth century to transport flour and 
meal ground from grain raised in the Russian Colony at Ross, Cali- 
fornia; and Albert Highway, construction of which was started in 
1924, built high on the cliffs overlooking the bay and, at the head of 
the bay, turning inland through fields and meadows to Buskin River, 
where there is good trout fishing. 

Steamers usually call at a number of canneries and small fishing 
villages in the vicinity of Kodiak before crossing Shelikof Strait. 
OuziNKiE (p.o., 200 pop., est. 1938, largely Aleut and Russian) is on 
Spruce Island, northeast of Kodiak, from which it is separated by 


Narrow Strait. Ouzinkie is a Russian word meaning "narrow." 
Spruce Island was settled by Russians while Kodiak was still their 
chief port, and was used by them as a shipbuilding yard. There are 
now two docks on the island, and seaplanes may land in the bay. 
A packing company maintains a bunkhouse where room and board 
may be had for $1 to $1.75 a day. The general store can supply tourist 
information for all of the Kodiak Island district. There is a Greek 
Orthodox church, a Baptist mission and orphanage, and a Territorial 
school on this island. At Monk's Lagoon, the home of a monk from 
Mt. Athos, Greece, is a shrine containing relics of an ancient saint, 
worshiped by the Aleuts and Russians. A public swimming beach 
is maintained in the heart of the village, and trout and red and silver 
salmon are found within an hour's boat ride. Uyak (lypop.) is a 
Native village about 60 miles west of Kodiak. At Karluk (p.o., 192 
pop.) is a precipitous mountain mass 1,600 feet high locally known as 
Karluk Head. Alitak (p.o., 75 pop.) is a fishing village of Aleuts on 
the west coast of Kodiak Island at Alitak Bay. A Russian America 
Company map of 1849 shows a settlement of Russians and Aleuts 
here, called Kashukugmiut. The town was later known as Akhoik, 
a Russian name, changed to Alitak during the World War. Old 
Harbor (p.o., 94 pop. chiefly Aleuts) is on the southeast shore of 
Kodiak Island. This was Shelikof's Three Saints Harbor. The Native 
name is Starigown. 

Opposite the western side of the Afognak-Kodiak group, across 
Shelikof Strait, is Katmai National Monument (inaccessible to 
tourists), probably the largest and most awesome group of associated 
volcanic phenomena to be seen anywhere in the world. The area 
of the Monument is over 1,700 square miles. The Valley of Ten 
Thousand Smokes, from which great columns of white vapor pour 
out of the fissured ground from many times ten thousand vents, 
includes a complicated system of branches, irregular in shape, and 
extends from Katmai Pass northwestward to the head of Naknek 
Lake near the western side of the Alaska Peninsula, a distance of 
32 miles. The area of the valley is 70 square miles, and its average 
width two miles. 

Prior to 1912 Katmai Volcano had been inactive. On June 6, 1912, 
the eruption began at i p.m., with a terrific explosion, the sound of 
which was heard 750 miles distant. At 3 p.m. there was another explo- 


sion. Steam and ash rose several miles in the air and spread over an 
area as large as Connecticut, extending total darkness over 100 miles. 
Fumes were observed at Vancouver Island and Puget Sound, 1,500 
miles away. Ivan Orloff, who with a group of Natives was fishing 
near by, wrote to his wife on June 8, "A mountain has burst near 
here, so that we are covered with ashes, in some places 10 feet and 
6 feet deep. . . . Night and day we light lamps. In a word it is 
terrible, and we are expecting death any moment, and we have no 
water. . . . Here are darkness and hell, thunder and noise. The earth 
is trembling." American Pete, chief of the Sabonoski tribe, the only 
eyewitness of the eruption, described the phenomenon in six words 
that compare for laconicism with the first sentence of Genesis: "Fire 
come down trail from Katmai." The first detailed news of the explo- 
sion came to the outside world when the steamer Dora, which had 
been unable to reach Kodiak, returned to Seward, her decks covered 
with ash. 

The National Geographic Society sent an exploration party to the 
district in 1915, consisting of Prof. R. F. Griggs, botanist of Ohio 
State University, B. B. Fulton, etymologist of the New York Experi- 
mental Station, and L. G. Folsom, manual training teacher of Kodiak. 
When the party landed at Katmai Bay, they saw evidences of a great 
flood. Small avalanches were still rolling down the mountain, most 
of the trees had perished, the old church was in a sea of mud, and 
some of the Native's houses were filled with pumice and others sub- 
merged. The river, formerly a body of deep water five miles wide, 
was a maze of quicksand crisscrossed by a network of small streams. 
The old trail between Katmai village and Saboniski, at the head of 
Naknek Lake, was covered with ash and pumice. Tens of thousands 
of holes had been blown through the floor of the valley. All vegetation 
had been burned by a torrent of incandescent sand that covered a 
total area of 53 square miles and had an estimated volume of more 
than one cubic mile; as a result, there was no fuel, and cooking had 
to be done in the vents, where temperatures reached as high as 
1,200°. The whole valley was a riot of bright color, and the fine- 
grained mud was so similar to ground oil pigments that an artist 
painted a number of pictures with the mud, using canvas from a 
ruined tent. 

For over 15 miles down the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, in 
the northwestern portion of the reservation, the ground is broken open, 


giving vent to several million fumaroles or little volcanoes, from 
which rise jets of steam. Some of the jets throw their steam to over a 
thousand feet in the air, and hundreds of others go up to a distance of 
500 feet, all merging above the valley into one titanic cloud. Scientists 
say that this astounding valley is an example of what the geyser 
basins of Yellowstone Park were at the time when Yellowstone's 
volcanoes first ceased their activity, and they predict that in the course 
of time, probably many centuries, the surface will cool sufficiently 
for the vents to retain water some distance down. When this happens 
the steam below, pressing against the water near the surface, will force 
it upward into the air, and a new geyser field will come into existence. 
Recent visitors (1938) report that the fumaroles already have begun 
to show less activity than formerly. 

The snow-capped crater of Katmai, left by the explosion, has a rim 
three miles in width. The circumference, measured along the highest 
point of the rim, is 8.4 miles. From the bottom of the crater to its 
rim is 3,700 feet, and its capacity is 4,000,000,000 cubic yards. In the 
crater lies a lake of milky blue water over a mile long and nearly 
a mile wide, in which is a little crescent-shaped island measuring 400 
feet from tip to tip. 

Within five miles of the fumaroles is heavily timbered country, 
little injured by the eruption^ which supports an abundance of wild 
life. The upper end of Naknek Lake, lying within the western 
boundary of the park between the wooded slopes of Mr. La Gorge 
(3,3i5alt.) and Mr. Katalinat (5,8ooalt.) is full of large trout, 24 to 
32 inches long; and Coville, Grosvenor, and Brooks lakes are near by. 

The eruption carved out a new harbor in what had hitherto been 
shown on all charts as dry land, in an arm of Amalik Bay, sur- 
rounded by rugged mountains, rising 3,000 feet out of the water. 
This the last National Geographic Society Expedition in 1919 dis- 
covered and christened Geographic Harbor. When the harbor is de- 
veloped and an automobile road about 30 miles in length is con- 
structed, the area will be readily accessible and will undoubtedly draw 
many visitors. In the meantime, none but the hardiest and most 
experienced explorers should attempt a visit to the region. 

The land was set aside as a national monument by presidential 
proclamation, September 24, 1918. It has a total area of 1,087,990 acres. 

The volcanic region of Alaska stretches along Alaska Peninsula 


for some 1,200 miles, from Mr. Redoubt (io,20oalt.) and Mr. Iliamna 
(io,02oalt.), both active volcanoes, on the north, to Bogoslov Island 
on the south. Mt. Augustine (3,970 alt.), on Augustine Island toward 
the western side of the mouth of Cook Inlet, was the most recent 
volcano to erupt in Alaska. 

Kanatak (p.o., 78 pop.), supposed to mean snowy in Aleutian, is 
a ghost town whose inhabitants live in fine houses along a street 
with buildings bravely marked "Bakery," "Cafe," and so on. Fishing 
and trapping are the principal industry, since the subsiding of an oil 
boom early in the century. There are three principal petroleum areas 
in Alaska: the regions around Point Barrow, around Katalla, and on 
the east coast of the Alaska Peninsula from Tuxedni Bay near Iliamna 
to Kanatak and Wide Bay. In 1937 and 1938 the third area was 
receiving renewed attention. A test well drilled on the Iniskin-Chinitna 
Peninsula, near Mt. Iliamna, was the most northerly commercial oil 
well in the world, and was the first well in Alaska to be drilled with 
modern methods (similar to those used in California), that permit 
a depth of 10,000 feet or more. The Iniskin Drilling Company 
brought 2500 tons of machinery and equipment to the site, including 
11,000 barrels of fuel oil, eight miles of pipe, 200 tons of clay and 
mud-conditioning chemicals from the Mohave Desert, and 250,000 feet 
of lumber for constructing camps and housing, for equipment. All 
this was freighted ashore in 40-ton lighters and hauled six miles 
inland, where a 122-foot steel derrick was erected on a concrete 
foundation. The geological formations are right for oil — it remains to 
be seen whether it exists in commercial quantities. If it does, this 
source of fuel would be of great value for national defense, and could 
supply the naval bases at Kodiak and Unalaska and the army air base 
at Fairbanks. 

Roughly on a line with Sutwik, the Semidi (Russian for "seven"), 
and Chirikof islands — the last named for Captain Alexei Ilich Chirikof, 
commander of the Si. Paul, companion ship of Bering's St. Peter — is 
Aniakchak Crater. Comparable craters to this one, its diameter 
measuring the stupendous distance of six miles, are found on the 
moon. It was discovered and named by R. H. Sargent of the Geological 
Survey in 1923, and lies about midway between the Pacific and 
Bering Sea on Alaska Peninsula. It was thought to be extinct until 
May I, 1931, when at exactly 12 noon it exploded, and clouds of gas 


and ashes rushed four miles straight up into the air and spread out 
hkc a gigantic mushroom. The earth shook, flames and smoke rose 
thousands of feet high, and volcanic ash hurled through the air. The 
eruption went on continuously for ten days, and on May ii another 
terrilk explosion occurred. After resting nine days, Aniakchak blew 
up for the final time on May 20. All this display was witnessed by only 
one white person, Frank Wilson, who lived fifteen miles away. The 
Aniakchak River, a small stream, rises in the crater of the volcano. 
Father Hubbard, the "glacier priest," estimates the floor area of 
Aniakchak at 30 square miles. He visited it after the 1931 eruption, 
and says, "It was the most terrible prelude to hell I could imagine. 
Last year it was a plant, fish, and animal world in a 30 square mile 
area enclosed by 3,000-foot walls, but now it was an abomination of 
desolation with everything blotted out." Father Bernard Rosecrans 
Hubbard was born in San Francisco in 1888. He has taught in many 
Jesuit schools and was one time chaplain to the Austrian empress. 
Since 1926 he has been head of the department of geology at the 
University of Santa Clara. During this time he has conducted many 
explorations in Alaska, and has himself climbed Aniakchak, Shis- 
haldin, and Katmai volcanoes. In addition to many scientific papers, 
he is the author of Mush You Malemutes (1932) and Cradle of the 
Storm (1933). 

Chignik (p.o., 60 pop. est. in 1938, mostly Natives) Is a fishing 
settlement in a beautiful crescent harbor surrounded by towering 
mountains. It contains a Russian Orthodox church. Its name is prob- 
ably of Native origin, given it by the Russians. West of Chignik is 
Mt. Veniaminof (8,40oalt.), which was in eruption in June, 1939, was 
named for Father Ivan Veniaminof, Metropolitan Innocent of Moscow. 
Born Ivan Popof in 1797, in Irkutsk province, Siberia, he entered the 
theological school of Irkutsk as a ward of the parish. Upon an order 
from the Holy Synod in Moscow in 1823 that a priest be sent to 
Unalaska, Father Veniaminof offered to go. He instructed the Aleuts 
in the practical arts, learned their language, beliefs, and customs, and 
began the translation of hymns, prayers and portions of the Bible into 
Aleut. On his travels he always carried a notebook in which he 
recorded all he heard. Later he gathered his notes into a volume that 
still remains the foundation for students of Aleutian ethnology. He 
also compiled a grammar of the Aleut and Kodiak languages. After 


ten years at Unalaska he was transferred to Sitka, the Russian capital 
of Alaska, as pastor of St. Michael's Cathedral, the clock of which 
he built with his own hands. Here he compiled important ethnological 
data concerning the Tlingits. In 1838 he left Sitka for Moscow, return- 
ing in 1841 as the first bishop of Alaska. From that time on he 
traveled often from Sitka to Moscow and throughout the Russian 
colonies in America. In 1868 he was given the title of Metropolitan 
of Moscow, and remained in Russia, where he died in 1879. 

Perryville (p.o., 93 pop.) is a Native fishing village 50 miles south 
of Chignik. After the village of Katmai had been destroyed in 1912, 
Captain Perry of the Manning brought its inhabitants to this spot, 
where they settled, naming the village after the commander of the 
relief ship. Here steamers usually leave the coast and touch at fishing 
villages on the larger Shumagin Islands, a group named by Bering 
after one of his sailors who died of scurvy near here on August 30, 
1 741. There are no trees on these islands save dense thickets, scrubby 
elders, and willows. Delicate alpine flowers grow between the rocks 
on the heights, and here are found dwarf poppies, willows hardly 
larger than clover plants, and tiny dwarf dandelions barely one inch 
high. The only mammals are small rodents, upon which the many 
owls eagerly feed. The insects are all wingless — insects with wings 
would be swept into the sea by the strong winds. The climate is mild 
and damp. In many respects the Shumagins resemble the Aleutians, 
which the ship is now approaching. On Unga Island, the largest of 
the Shumagins, is the village of Unga (p.o., 150 pop.). In the Russian 
period this was a sea-otter station. About 1900 extensive gold mining 
was done here and in recent years it has been a center for cod fish- 
ing. Sand Point (p.o., 69pop.) is about 15 miles northeast of Unga. 
The Methodist Mission Board planned in 1938 to ecjuip a hospital 
here to serve the entire region. The steamer channel runs between 
Dolgoi Island, west of the Shumagins, and the mainland, on which 
now appears Mr. Pavlof (8,900 alt.), an active volcano which in 1937 
showered the countryside with ash. South of Mt. Pavlof is Belkofski 
(p.o., 123 pop.), a Native settlement, its name, meaning "squirrel," 
given it by Russians before 1835. King Cove (p.o., 9opop. est. 1938), 
named for its founder, is a fishing village with a Territorial school. At 
False Pass (p.o., i6pop. est. 1933), so named because it and Isanotski 
Strait seem at first sight to offer passage to ocean-going vessels between 


the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea, is a small fishing settlement. Here 
the Alaska Peninsula ends, and the Aleutian Islands begin. 

From Unimak the Aleutians stretch westward some 1,300 miles 
from the Alaska Peninsula to Kamchatka, the parallel that marks the 
boundary line between the western and eastern hemispheres (180° 
both east and west of Greenwich) occurring between the Andreanof 
and the Rat groups. The Aleutians enclose the great Bering Sea 
between the United States and the USSR. Attu, the westernmost of the 
Aleutian Islands belonging to the United States, lies about on the 
173rd parallel — here in the month of June the sun is setting at the 
same hour it is rising off the coast of Maine. The Komandorski group, 
belonging to the Soviet Union, completes the chain that stretches 
from the Alaska Peninsula to Kamchatka. 

In these treeless islands of volcanic origin, bathed in a moist climate, 
covered with luxuriant growth of grasses and soft moss, the history 
of Alaska began. Perhaps it was over this chain of islands that man 
first crossed to Alaska from Asia. The very name Alaska had its 
origin here. Cook noted in 1778, "The American continent is here 
called by the Russians as well as by the islanders Alaschka, which 
name though it properly belongs only to the country adjoining 
Oonemak is used by them when speaking of the American continent 
in general, which they know perfectly well to be a great land." The 
Aleut name al-ay-e/{-sha is supposed to mean "mainland," and even 
today Natives of the Shumagins are reported as saying, when they 
intend to cross over to the peninsula, "I am going to Alaska" (i.e., 
the mainland). When Russian fur hunters began to swarm into these 
islands soon after Bering's third voyage in 1741, they found them 
inhabited by a large nation, perhaps numbering 25,000: a peaceful, 
fish-eating people, called by the Chukchi on the Asiatic mainland 
/(itchin elaet, later corrupted into Aleut. "Their behavior," wrote 
Sauer, "is not rude and barbarous, but mild, polite, and hospitable. 
At the same time the beauty, proportion and art with which they 
make their boats, instruments, and apparel, evince that they by no 
means deserve to be termed stupid; an epithet so liberally bestowed 
on those whom Europeans call savages." 

In a few years the Aleuts had been brought by the Russians to a 
state of slavery, and their numbers reduced almost unbelievably. 
"According to the best intelligence I could obtain of the population 


of all the Aleutian Islands," wrote Sauer of a period scarcely fifty years 
after Bering's voyage, "the number of males including children does 
not exceed i,ioo, of which about 500 of the most active are employed 
by different parties of Russian promyshlenil{i, or hunters. ... It is 
much to be lamented that they are under the sway of roving Russian 
hunters, who are infinitely more savage than any tribes I have hitherto 
met with; nor do I see any means of checking their outrages; for the 
authority of the government can never reach these distant regions." 
Captain Billings, when in Unalaska in 1790, recorded in his journal, 
"In consequence of complaints made to me in form, on my first 
arrival at Okhotsk, by several people who were sent by the Govern- 
ment to collect the tribute of the Aleutian Islanders against the 
hunters, for cruelties to the Natives, I represented the same and 
received a private mandate from Her Imperial Majesty (Catherine of 
Russia) ordering me to inspect the behavior of the merchants and 
hunters in these parts. I have in consequence made it my business at 
Sithanak and Oonalashka to make enquiries into the treatment the 
Natives receive from these people; and I have been, as well as every 
gentleman on board, an eyewitness of the abject state of slavery in 
which these unfortunate islanders live under the Promyshleniks. . . . 
These people employ all the men of Oonalashka and Sithanak in the 
chase, taking the fruits of their labor to themselves and not allowing 
the Natives necessary clothing. There is therefore no name so dreadful 
to them as that of Peredofshik (the leader of a gang of hunters). On 
the arrival of the vessel at any place where they purpose making a 
stay they haul her on shore; immediately send the Natives on the 
chase, even to the farthest of the Shumagin Islands; and then take 
by force the youngest and most handsome of the women for their 

A Russian officer on Billings' expedition noted in his journal in the 
same year, "The company of hunters now here make the boast that 
they clothe and feed the islanders; which they do in the following 
manner: The Natives, being under their control, are sent out in parties 
to chase sea animals and catch fish. The produce of the chase is de- 
livered into the Company's stock, out of which the Natives receive an 
allowance. Such of the inhabitants as are too infirm or too young 
to be sent out on aquatic excursions are used in domestic drudgery 
or digging edible roots; while the women are occupied in making or 
mending clothing from the inferior skins of animals and birds. The 


hunters are accustomed to act as follows: On the arrival of a vessel 
at an inhabited island, the Peredofshik sent an armed boat to the 
habitations to take from the Natives all their furs and valuable articles 
that they possessed; and if the least opposition was made, they were 
silenced by the muskets of the hunters. Wives were taken from their 
husbands, and daughters from their mothers; indeed the barbarity of 
their subduers to the crown of Russia is not to be described. They 
used not infrequently to place men close together, and try through 
how many the ball of their rifle-barreled musket would pass." 

Many interesting descriptions of the Aleuts are given by early 
navigators before Father V^eniaminof arrived and made his more 
scholarly investigations. Sauer wrote: 

"The people are of middle size; of very dark brown and healthy 
complexion; a round face in general, small nose, black eyes and hair, 
the latter very strong and wiry. They have scanty beards, but very 
thick hair on the upper lip. The under lip is, in general, perforated, 
and small ornaments of bone or beads inserted; as is also the septum 
of the nose. The women have the chin punctured in fine lines rayed 
from the center of the lip, and covering the whole of the chin. 

"The arms and cheeks of some are also punctured. They are very 
clean in their persons; and the men are very active in their small 
baidars. The women are chubby, rather pretty, and very kind. 

"They formerly wore a dress of sea-otter skins, but not since the 
Russians have had any intercourse with them. At present they wear 
what they can get; the women, a parka of kotik, or ursine seal, with 
the hair outward. This is made like a carter's frock, but without a slii 
on the breast, and with a round upright collar about three inches 
high, made very stiff, and ornamented with small beads sewed on in 
a very pretty manner. Slips of leather are sewn to the seams of this 
dress, and hang down about 20 inches long, ornamented with the 
bill of the sea-parrot and beads. A slip of leather three or four inches 
broad hangs down in front from the top of the collar, covered fanci- 
fully with different colored glass beads, and tassels at the ends: a 
similar slip hangs down in back. Bracelets of black sealskin are worn 
round their wrists about a half inch broad, and similar ones round 
their ankles, for they go barefooted, and this is all their dress. Their 
ornaments are rings on their fingers, earrings, beads and bones sus- 
pended from the septum of the nose, and bones in the perforated 
holes under the lip. Their cheeks, chin and arms are punctured in a 

The First Alaskans 


,HE Native population of Alaska is composed of four 
distinct ethnic groups: the Tlingit, the Athapascans, the Aleut, and the 

The Eskimo live along the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea and in the 
deltas of the Yukon and Kuskokvvim rivers. They are a hardy, good- 
humored, extraordinarily honest people. Their present economy is 
based chiefly on the reindeer, introduced into the Territory for that 
purjxjse by the Bureau of Education; but the Eskimo is also a fur- 
trapper and fisher. The Aleuts, a related people in the Alaska Pen- 
insula and westward, were Europeanized a hundred and fifty years 
ago and resemble Russian peasants more than they do their cousins 
the Eskimo. 

The great race of southeastern Alaska was the Tlingit. Before the 
arrival of the white man Haida Indians from Queen Charlotte Sound 
had entered Tlingit country and Tsimshians from British Columbia 
came to Metlakatla with Father Duncan in 1887. Such distinguishing 
marks as once existed among these tribes have practically disappeared 
under white civilization. The Indians of southeastern Alaska today live 
by fishing. They work in the white man's canneries and factories and 
have lost many of their old crafts. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is 
attempting to revive these through its schools. The Indians of interior 
Alaska, the Tinneh, or Athapascans, are fur-trappers and reindeer 
herders but resemble the people of southeastern Alaska rather than 
the Eskimo. 

Esl{inw Child 

Tlingii Gill, Federal School at Juneau 


Metla){atlan Wood Carver 

r "^1 

Cluej of the King Islanders 


Eskimo Trader at Nome 

Es/^imo Wearing Intestinc-Skjn Parl{a 

Esf^imo in Kaya1{^ 

Kin(^ Islatiders at Nome 


very neat manner. When they go a-walking on the rocky beach they 
wear an awkward kind of boot, made of the throat of the sea hon, 
soled with thick sealskin, which they line with dry grass. The 
men wear a parka of bird skin, sometimes with the feathers outward 
and sometimes inward. The skin side is dyed red, and ornamented 
with slips of leather hanging down to a considerable length; the seams 
are covered with thin slips of skin, very elegantly embroidered with 
white deer's hair, goat's hair and the sinews of sea animals, dyed of 
different colors. They also wear tight pantaloons of white leather, 
and boots described to be worn by women at times: the men wear 
them when they go on foot; but in their baidars or their huts they are 
without either pantaloons or boots. The men have their hair cut short; 
the women wear theirs short before, combed over the forehead and 
tied in a club on the top of the head. In wet weather, or when out 
at sea, they wear a camley; which is a dress made in the shape of 
the other; but formed of the intestines of sea animals: the bladder of 
halibut, or the skin off the tongue of the whale. It has a hood to 
cover the head and ties close around the neck and wrists; so that no 
water can penetrate. It is nearly transparent, and looks pretty. The 
men wear also a wooden bonnet, ornamented with the whiskers of 
the sea lion and with beads, which make very pretty nodding plumes; 
and this serves to fasten the hood of their camley to the head. . . . 

"Their instruments and utensils are all made with amazing beauty 
and the exactest symmetry; the needles with which they sew their 
clothes and embroidery are made of the wing bone of the gull, with 
a very nice cut around the thicker end, instead of an eye, to which 
they tie the thread so skillfully that it follows the needle without any 
obstruction. The thread they make of the sinews of the seal, and of 
all sizes, from the fineness of a hair to the strength of a moderate 
cord, both twisted and plaited cords. Their darts, to which they tie 
the gut of a seal blown out to serve as a float, are very beautifully 
ornamented with red downy feathers and goat's hair; as are also the 
different strings with which they fasten the wrists and other parts of 
their clothing. . . . 

"Their darts are adapted with the greatest judgment to the different 
objects of the chase; for animals, a single barbed point; for birds, they 
are furnished with three points of light bone, spread and barbed; for 
seals, etc., they use a false point, inserted in a socket at the end of the 
dart, which parts on the least effort of the animal to dive, remaining 


in its body. A string of considerable length is fastened to this barbed 
point, and twisted around the wooden point of the dart; this serves as 
a float to direct them to the seal, which having a stick to drag after 
it, soon tires and becomes an easy prey. It however requires skill to 
humor it, perhaps equal to our angling. The boards used in throwing 
these darts are equally judicious, and enable the natives to cast them 
with great exactness to a considerable distance. 

"The baidars or boats of Oonalashka are infinitely superior to those 
of any other island. If perfect symmetry, smoothness and proportion 
constitute beauty, they are beautiful; to me they appeared so beyond 
anything I have ever beheld. I have seen some of them as transparent 
as oiled paper, through which you could trace every formation of 
the inside, and the manner of the Natives sitting in it; whose light 
dress, pointed and plumed bonnet, together with his perfect ease and 
activity, added infinitely to its elegance. Their first appearance struck 
me with amazement beyond expression. We were in the offings, eight 
miles from shore, when they came about us. There was little wind, 
but a great swell of sea; some we took on board with their boats; and 
others continued rowing about the ships. Nearer in to the land we 
had a strong" rippling current in our favor, at the rate of three and a 
half miles an hour, the sea breaking violently over the shoals, and on 
the rocks. The Natives, observing our astonishment at their agility and 
skill, paddled in among the breakers which reached to their breasts, 
and carried the baidars quite under the water, sporting about more 
like amphibious animals than human beings. . . ." 

Unimak Island (59 pop.), the largest of the eastern Aleutians, lies 
immediately west of the Peninsula, and is about 65 miles long and 
22 miles wide. On Unimak is magnificent Mr. Shishaldix (9,387alt.) 
an active volcano sometimes known as Smoking Moses. With its 
snowy conical peak and the wreath of smoke that forever hangs about 
its summit it is said to resemble Fuji-no-Yama. Enormous rings, appar- 
ently several hundred feet in diameter and of remarkable symmetry 
and whiteness, may occasionally be seen emerging in puffs from the 
very top. The volcano has apparently been mildly active for the past 
one hundred and fifty years, for it was described by Sauer as "a 
perfect cone towering to an immense height, and discharging a con- 
siderable body of smoke from its summit." The crater is said by Father 
Hubbard, who visited it in 1934, to be only 100 feet in diameter, and 


plugged up almost to the rim with broken burned-out volcanic rock. 
On the western end of Unimak Island is Mr. Pogromni (6,50oalt.), 
the name meaning "desolation" in Russian, a smaller and less active 
volcano. Twenty-five miles southeast of Unimak is Sanak Island, 
12 miles long, on which are the Native fishing villages of Sanak 
(p.o., 32 pop.) and Pavlof (42 pop.). Fox breeding is carried on in 
neighboring islands. Not a bush or a tree grows on the island — one 
year a Christmas tree was improvised by the local schoolteacher from a 
broken oar around which vines were twined, with sticks of candy 
serving for candles. Sanak Peak is 1,700 feet high. Cook was becalmed 
here June 21, and in three hours his party caught more than 100 
halibut weighing 20 to 100 pounds each. Cook then named it Halibut 

In good weather steamers pause at Scotch Cap (so named because 
it resembles a Scottish bonnet in profile) to leave supplies for the light- 
house. Scotch Cap Light on the Pacific Ocean side and Sarichef Light 
on the Bering Sea side are both on the southern end of Unimak 
Island. At each place may be seen three houses, fitted up for three 
keepers and their families. The story goes that in former years the 
keepers had their wives with them, but that the ladies could not adjust 
their social differences and so were returned to civilization. At any 
rate, the population at each lighthouse is three males. Only under the 
most favorable weather conditions can mail and supplies be landed 
by lifeboats, and sometimes in winter three months go by before a 
landing can be made. 

Akutan Island, the largest of the Krenitzin group, about 45 miles 
northeast of Unalaska, has a peak of the same name (4,iooalt.) — an 
active volcano. On the north shore of the island is a village that can be 
smelled before it is seen, Akutan (71 pop.), the site of a whaling 
station maintained by the American Pacific Whaling Company. Here 
oil from whales is refined to make soap for beautiful women, a cook- 
ing oil, and a fine lubricating oil for airplane motors. In a good 
season two hundred or more whales are caught by boats operating 
from this station. 

As soon as a whale is sighted from the lookout mast of the steam 
whaling vessel, the vessel is brought within range, and a harpoon to 
which is attached a time bomb is fired at the whale. On the shaft of 
the harpoon are barbs that expand on entering the whale's body, and 


the bomb also explodes inside the whale, which "sounds," seeking the 
lower depths, or sometimes tows the ship several miles before weaken- 
ing. As soon as the line attached to the harpoon slackens, it is snubbed 
around a heavy steam winch, and the wounded whale played much 
in the manner that a big fish is played by an angler. At last the whale 
rises to the surface, lashing the water into foam with his tail. Should 
he blow blood from his nostrils when he emerges, the whalers know 
that he is mortally wounded and wait for him to die. If he blows clear 
vapor, the "pram," a peculiar spoon-shaped boat, is lowered and rowed 
alongside the whale and a long lance is driven into him until he blows 
blood. The body of the whale is brought alongside, and in order to 
make it more buoyant, air is pumped into the abdominal cavity. 

At the station, the carcass is hauled out of the water by a powerful 
steam winch. As soon as it is in place, men with longhandled knives 
begin to strip off the blubber, that is then chopped into slices and 
dropped into an elevator to be hoisted into blubber pots, where the 
oil is tried out by steam pipes running through the pots. After the 
blubber is exhausted of oil, it is conveyed to drainage tanks, then to 
the dryer, where, mixed with the residue of the meat, it is shredded 
and ground into fertilizer. After the blubber is removed from the 
carcass, the inside fat is taken out by chopping through the ribs, and 
the carcass is hauled up on the platform, where another gang of men 
removes the meat from the skeleton. The meat resembles beef in 
texture and flavor and is eaten at the station daily, and long strips 
of it are dried for winter dog food. It is boiled in the pots like the 
blubber, and the oil is extracted by an acid process. The blubber oil 
is ready for barreling when cold; but the meat oil has to be cleansed 
and clarified. The only part of the animal discarded is precisely the 
part once so valuable — the gill bones from which were once manu- 
factured buggy whips and stays for women's corsets. On Baby Island, 
in dangerous Akutan Pass, the little schooner Abbie M. Deering of 
Gloucester, which Kipling described in Captains Courageous as the 
We're Here, was wrecked in 1903 on her way from Seattle to Nome. 
The passengers and crew, thirty-nine in all, escaped to the island, 
from which they were rescued by the coastguard cutter Manning. 
Here in this northern weathcrkitchen the warm air of the Japan 
Current is mixed with the heavy, cold air of Bering Sea and creates 
clockwise-moving storms that have an important effect on the climate 
of the United States. 


Unalaska Island, the largest and most important of the eastern 
Aleutians, about 67 miles long and 30 miles at its greatest width, 
extends in a northeast-southwest direction. According to Father Veni- 
aminof, the Natives called it A'uan Alaksha, this main or great land. 
It was discovered by the Russians in about 1759, when Stephen 
Golottof, placed in charge of the Julian by Nikifor, a Moscow mer- 
chant, came to Umnak and later to Unalaska. He was soon followed 
by Promyshleniki, who committed such cruelties on the Natives that 
the inhabitants of Umnak and Unalaska revolted in 1762, destroyed 
three vessels, and killed many hunters. In revenge Solovief, known 
as "the terrible," killed some 3,000 Aleuts, tying them back to back 
and shooting two men with the same bullet, or blowing up a group 
with gunpowder. Their spirit broken, the Aleuts never again at- 
tempted to throw off the yoke of their Russian masters. "Before the 
Russians came," recorded Father Veniaminof, "there were on this 
island 24 settlements, and altogether a great many people. Even as late 
as 1805, there were 15 counted settlements, and in them 800 souls; 
but at present (1834) there are only 10, and in them only 470." 

From 1743 to 1799 the Russians alone took out of Alaska 186,754 
recorded otter skins, besides many others unrecorded. After Cook's 
voyage to the north Pacific, trading vessels from England, Flanders, 
France, and California appeared in these waters, and for a long time 
Unalaska was the capital of the Alaska-China fur trade. In 1798 a 
combination of Russian fur companies was organized to resist foreign 
competition, and the following year it received a charter authorizing 
it to do business under the name of the Russian America Company. 
By that time the seat of the company had been transferred to Kodiak 
as furs became scarcer to westward, and later it was transferred to 
Sitka in southeastern Alaska. 

The village of Unalaska (p.o., 356 pop. est. 1938), at the head of 
Iliuliuk Harbor, was founded by Solovief as a fur-trading station 
between 1760 and 1770. It was named Iliuliuk, said to mean "harmony" 
or "good understanding," but more probably simply "curving beach." 
The village itself consists of a few houses and stores along a crescent 
beach, the gently rolling mossy tundra immediately behind, and on all 
sides dark mountains, the highest peak of which is Mr. Makushin 
(5,691 alt.). First a fur capital in the eighteenth century, the town 
became during the Klondike rush in 1898 a halfway station for ships 


plying between Seattle, the Klondike, and Nome; and fuel and food 
supplies were stored here for emergency use. Later Unalaska declined 
in commercial importance, and today its major source of income is 
from the crews of American vessels that anchor at the naval base. 
A reservation of 64,640 acres has been set aside for the United States 
Navy, a seaplane base is to be established, and also a base for war 
vessels that would be capable of expansion in an emergency. 

Unalaska has an incomparable location as a strategic key position 
in the north Pacific. A fleet based at Unalaska is in the most powerful 
position for either offensive or defensive operations at any place in 
the Pacific — to prevent an attack on the West Coast, the Philippines, 
or Honolulu, and to intercept or destroy a fleet attempting to attack 
the Panama Canal. By mining the passes between the islands, Bering 
Sea could be made a closed area, and Bristol Bay could shelter a fleet 
of any size. 

Father Veniaminof records in 1834 that a "wooden church, pro- 
vided with bells, and pictures in gilt frames" was built by the Aleuts 
in 1826. Some of the old Russian religious paintings referred to remain 
on the walls of the present church. Twenty-seven huts, belonging to 
the "creoles" (those of mixed Aleut and Russian blood) and the 
Aleuts, stood at Unalaska at that time, near the warehouses and offices 
of the Russian America Company, then the head office of the district. 
These huts and their inhabitants were thus described by Sarychev in 
1806: "The huts are covered with grass and mud, and instead of a 
door an opening, which is too low to enter without stooping. From 
this opening you ascend by a beam, that serves for stairs, into the 
interior of the hut; where close by the walls, divisions are set apart 
for each family, and the floors are covered with rush mats, which 
serve for beds. Each female occupies a distinct division, and is mostly 
busy in making mats, sacks or baskets, which task she executes with 
amazing dexterity. These baskets, etc., are made of the longest blades 
of grass previously dried, and for the finer work, split into slips. In 
this process she uses no other instrument but her fingers: with the 
nail of her forefinger, which she suffers to grow to a great length, 
until it is as sharp as a lancet, she not only parts the blades of grass, 
but also the sinews of animals, which she twists with her fingers 
alone into a beautifully fine and even thread for sewing their clothes. 
Their needles they make of the bones of fish, large or small as the 
work requires, and fasten their thread to them by tying. Whenever 


they get a steel needle, they immediately break off the eye, and rub 
it on the edge of a stone, till they have made a notch, where they can 
tie the thread in their usual way. 

"It is worthy of remark that the stomachers of these women are as 
beautifully shaped and decorated as if they had been the workmanship 
of a European embroiderer. The stomacher is made of the skin of a 
bird's neck, stretched and prepared for the purpose, and ornamented 
with silk, or the hair of goats and horses interwoven with that of the 
reindeer, which latter appears like rows of small pearls. In a similar 
manner they decorate the holiday dresses, girdles and caps of their 
husbands. . , . 

"When one of these Aleutians thus arrayed is seated in his baidar, 
there is something majestic in his appearance; but when he rises, he 
cuts a deplorable figure; and when he walks, he looks still more 
wretchedly, being disabled from continual sitting from straightening 
his feet or knees." 

An excellent Native school is maintained here, by the Methodist 
Board of Home Missions. There is a well-equipped hospital operated 
by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Some herring, halibut, and cod fish- 
ing is carried on by the Natives, and fur is raised on neighboring 
islands. There is a rifle range in the town, and a variety of fresh- 
and salt-water fishing places are 2 hours away. Telephone communica- 
tion is maintained with Dutch Harbor. There is no roadhouse, but 
accommodations are sometimes provided by the Alaska Commercial 
Company, which maintains a trading post here. 

Dutch Harbor (p.o., lypop.) is a village on the harbor of the 
same name. The harbor is 1% miles long and V2 mile wide, on the 
eastern side of Umaknak Island, in Unalaska Bay, west of the 
Iliuliuk Bay. It was so called from the tradition that a Dutch vessel 
was the first to enter it, although early Russian navigators called it 
by its Native name of Udakta. At one time a flourishing settlement 
and the capital of the fursealing industry, it has today scarcely more 
than a trading post, a few warehouses, and the house of the operators 
of the naval radio station located here. 

West of Unalaska Island is Umxak Island, one of the principal 
islands of the Aleutians, about 70 miles long and 15 miles at its greatest 
width. On it is Mt. Vsevidof (7,236alt.), a volcano. On Umnak, Car- 
lyle Eubank, a native of Utah, operates a sheep ranch of about 15,000 


head, maintained by a foreman and a crew of about six men. In 1937 
the flock yielded some 120,000 pounds of wool. The only creatures 
that prey on the sheep are the huge ravens, that pick out the animals' 
eyes and then feast when the blinded sheep fall into gullies. Seen 
from the deck of a ship, with no houses or buildings to give perspec- 
tive, the wooly white sheep moving against the brilliant green of the 
grasses look like termites crawling across a billiard table. The ranch 
began as a much more ambitious alTair when it was operated by 
A. F. Macintosh, who hoped that his flock would increase to 150,000. 

West of Umnak stretch, for over 800 miles, the rest of the Aleu- 
tians, many with unnamed rivers and peaks, some with active vol- 
canoes, for the most part uninhabited, but where a few Natives and 
an occasional white, breed foxes. Next to Umnak are the desolate 
uninhabited Islands of Four Mountains, their great cones almost 
perfect in form. The most southeastern, Chuginadak (5,291 alt.) is 
also the largest of the group. Herbert Island was named in 1894 after 
the then secretary of the navy, Hilary Abner Herbert. The northern- 
most of this group is Ull\ga, where in 1764 "a small settlement of 
thieving, quarrelsome people in the southeast part of the island" was 
exterminated by Golottof at the request of the Umnak Aleuts. 
Amukta Pass, marking ofT this group from the next westward group, 
the Andreanof Islands, was called by American whalers "Seventy- 
Second Pass" from its position near the 172nd Meridian. Seguam is the 
easternmost of the Andreanof group. Chagulak, one of the Islands 
of Four Mountains (4,30oalt.), appears on many maps as Chugul 
Island. In order to avoid the confusion arising from the presence in 
the Aleutian chain of three islands all named Chugul, two of these 
have been changed to Chagulak (long. 171° 10') and Segula (long. 
178° 09'), variants of the Native name of Chugul (long. 175° 52'). 
On Atka Island (p.o., 103 pop.), on which is Korovin Volcano 
(4,988alt.), is a small settlement, largely Native, with a general store, 
a Native school, and a Russian Orthodox church. Here and at Attn 
are made the beautiful Aleutian baskets. The population of the village 
consists of three whites and about seventy Aleuts whose only sources 
of income are fox trapping and basketry. Before the Russians arrived, 
the basis of Native economy was the sea otter. After the extermination 
of their means of subsistence and nearly a century of rapine and 
murder practiced on the defenseless Aleuts, the few Natives that 


remain are isolated from the rest of the world, and almost forgotten 
by it, save for the regular calls of coast-guard vessels and the occa- 
sional appearance of a freighter. Adak (5,678 alt.), one of the larger 
islands in the Andreanof group, is the Aleut word for "crab," also 
"father," The next westward group is the Rat Islands, so called from 
the early days of Russian exploration, probably because of the abund- 
ance of small rodents and the absence of larger mammals. Last of 
all are Agattu and Attu (3,084 alt.), the latter the westernmost of the 
Aleutians belonging to the United States and "the lonesomest spot 
this side of hell." Attu has an excellent harbor, though with a danger- 
ous entrance, and on the island is situated a small village, with a 
population of about fifty Natives and two whites. Here, as at Atka, 
the Natives live by selling fox skins and the exquisite Aleut baskets. 
The women gather beach grass in the fall, when it begins to turn 
yellow, split it into thin strands, and bleach it. The process of making 
the baskets is a long and tedious one. The women keep the strands 
moist in a damp rag, weaving them together with threads of em- 
broidery silk into watertight vessels decorated with traditional symbols. 
The weaving is so fine that the makers, living in the Native barabaras, 
(sod houses somewhere between a dog house and a pig sty in size and 
comfort) often become nearly blind. A fine Aleut basket may take 
several years to weave, and brings as much as one hundred dollars in 
southeastern Alaska. 

West of Attu is Copper Island, one of the Komandorski group, 
a possession of the USSR. On this barren, harborless island are great 
outcrops of almost pure copper ore, very much like the rich ore that 
appears in some of the Alaska copper mines. The Natives are given a 
small allowance in return for policing and patrolling the rookeries 
where the seal come to breed. In addition, the Natives trap foxes and 
raise small herds of cattle that feed on seaweed and fish, and give milk 
with a strong fish taste. The last of the Aleutians is Bering Island, 
also part of the Komandorski group. On its northwest corner is the 
grave of Vitus Bering, the first explorer of Alaska, who died on the 
island in 1741 before the conclusion of his third voyage. 

Leaving Umnak, steamers may turn northeastward toward Bristol 
Bay, passing on the left Bogoslov Island, about 35 miles north- 
west of Unalaska. Every traveler sighting the group returns with a 
different story. Discrepancies in descriptions of the place are the fault 


not of the travelers but of the islands themselves, which are in a 
state of volcanic formation. This jack-in-the-box of the sea suddenly 
appeared above the surface in 1796. In 1883 a second island appeared — 
until 1S90 connected with the first by a spit — a third, in 1906, and a 
fourth, in 1907. A year later the last two blew up and in 1909 were 
replaced by two others. Thus Bogoslov is a scattered group of 
small islands being changed in number and shape by frequent erup- 
tions. At the west end are two pinnacles (alt. about 400) noted when 
the island was first discovered, which alone have not materially 
changed. The crater is at sea level and is full of burned rocks, partly- 
cooled lava, and great chunks of sulphur. East of the crater is a 
deep lagoon with a sand bottom — an excellent anchorage for a vessel, 
provided its master is willing to take the risk of being blown skyhigh 
without warning. Bogoslov Island is one of the larger sea-lion 
rookeries in the North. Homer W. Jewell, of the Biological Survey, 
who has visited here several times says, "Each time we ventured on 
the island we found thousands of birds nesting, the young of which 
were scrambling around under our feet." 

Some 200 miles north of Unalaska on the 170th parallel lie the 
Pribilof Islands (open to visitors only by special permission from the 
Bureau of Fisheries). This famous fur-seal reservation consists of 
two larger islands, St. Paul, about 35 square miles, and St. George, 
about 27 square miles, each with a village of the same name; and 
two mere fly specks on the map. Walrus and Otter islands. Here for 
centuries seals have come to breed and hunters have killed them for 
their fur. The herd was nearing extinction in 1910, when it numbered 
only 130,000, but through the care and scientific management of the 
Bureau of Fisheries, which took charge of the islands in 191 1, the 
herd has increased by about eight percent a year, and in 1937 num- 
bered over 1,8^9,000. 

The Pribilofs were first visited by Gerasim Pribilof, navigator for a 
Russian fur company on June 12, 17S6. He named the island for his 
ship, the St. George, and the other for the day on which it was sighted 
— June 29, 1787, St. Peter's and St. Paul's Day by the Julian calendar. 
The name was later shortened to St. Paul. Sarychef's account, al- 
though contemporary, errs as to details of distance and time: 

"The vacant sturman's place, caused by the death of Mr. BronnikoiT 
at Oknotsk, was supplied by Mr. Pribuloff, who accompanied a trader's 


vessel three years back on the part of the government to collect tribute. 
At the same time he took charge of the vessel as commander on the 
part of the trading company; for which he received a share in the 
profits of the voyage. He made Oonalashka, and from his former 
observations that numbers of sea animals, particularly young kotic, 
came from the north in the autumn at the beginning of severe 
weather, he had formed the opinion that some unknown island lay at 
no great distance in that direction; and he therefore resolved without 
losing time to take on board as many islanders as he could obtain, 
with their small canoes and arms, and be convinced of the certainty 
or uncertainty of his opinion. 

"Twenty-four hours after he left Oonalashka he discovered land. 
The southern and western parts are surrounded by rocks; but the 
north is easy of approach, and affords good anchorage in a com- 
modious bay for small vessels, not drawing over eight or nine feet 
of water. The whole island is volcanic, destitute of inhabitants, and 
only produces bulbs, plants, and berries which are to be met with on 
all the Aleutian Islands. They found the low lands and surrounding 
rocks covered with sea animals, particularly ursine seals and the sea 
lions; and with the skins of these animals they nearly loaded their 
vessel. Pribiloff called this St. George's Island; and observing another 
island to the north at a distance of 44 miles, he went thither in a 
large baidar, accompanied by a number of Aleutes. This island is 
much smaller than St. George's, and he named it St. Paul's; this, 
as well as the former, was the retreat of immense herds of seals. On 
St. George's Island they passed the winter, and found the inland parts 
over-run with foxes, who afforded them a profitable chase. It also 
abounded with the tusks of the walross, which they picked up on the 

The islands are volcanic in origin. Fog envelops them nine days 
out of ten in summer. Their cool, moist, summers and their well- 
drained, broken rocks affording protection from the sea and weather 
are exactly suited to the habits of the seal, which needs just such a 
climate and grounds for its breeding period. Spring and autumn do 
not exist — there are two seasons: the foggy, wet summer and dry, 
windy winter. The average winter temperature is 22° to 26° above 
zero, the summer temperature about 46° to 50°, with the thermom- 
eter occasionally rising as high as 64° in July — the warmest month. 
During the summer the islands are covered with a vivid coat of grasses 


and moss, so green that it gives a deep tint to noonday shadows, con- 
trasting vividly with the reds, russets, lemon-yellows, grays, and pinks 
of the various plants and flowering annuals. The only fruit growing 
on the island is edible berries. St. Paul, its highest elevation 150 feet, 
consists of uplands, rugged hills, smooth volcanic cones, and a sandy 
beach. On St. George a blufl wall rises from the sea to a sheer height 
of 920 feet, and upon its innumerable shelf-margins breed millions 
of waterfowl. Otter Island, 6 miles southwest of the reef St. Paul, 
is a bare, bluffy islet with a single funnel-shaped crater, inhabited 
by many blue foxes and visited by many thousands of bachelor seals 
and millions of water birds. Walrus Island, 6 miles east from the 
northeast point of St. Paul, is a small rock, dangerous to shipping, 
with sparse grass in its central portions, visited by many male walrus 
and the breeding place of tens of thousands of waterfowl. 

When the Pribilofs were discovered there were no human inhabi- 
tants, so the Russians transferred a number of Aleuts there to help 
in hunting the seal. When Alaska was purchased by the United States 
in 1867 there were still millions of seals, but because of the uncon- 
trolled taking of skins they dwindled in the next two generations 
perilously close to extinction. An agreement between the United States, 
Great Britain, Russia, and Japan was concluded in 191 1 to prohibit 
the killing of fur seals while in the water (pelagic hunting) and to 
place the legitimate killing of surplus male seals under the direct 
control of the governments interested. By this international agreement 
no fur seals may be taken in the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea 
save by the aborigines, who may hunt them only with primitive 
weapons from unpowered boats; and the killing of seals on the 
Pribilofs is carried on by the United States through the Bureau of 
Fisheries, which yearly selects surplus males of a certain age group for 
killing, and makes an annual census of the herd. Fifteen percent, 
either in skins or in proceeds of sale, is delivered to Great Britain 
and a like amount to Japan, as their shares under treaty provisions. 
Before sale, the government-owned sealskins are dressed, dyed, 
machined, and finished, so that when they pass into the hands of the 
public they are ready for making into garments. Public auctions are 
held for the account of the government by the Fouke Fur Company 
of St. Louis, Missouri, which processes the skins under contract with 
the government. The carcasses are manufactured into meal and oil. 
Protection of the seal herd is eflccted by a patrol of coast guard and 


Bureau of Fisheries' vessels. During the winter, when sealing is at a 
standstill, the Natives trap foxes, obtaining approximately i,ooo pelts 
each season. 

The 412 Natives of the Pribilofs are virtual wards of the govern- 
ment, which provides them with food, clothing, shelter, schooling, and 
medical attention, as well as some cash compensation, in return for 
their work in taking the fur seal and fox. The Bureau of Fisheries 
builds houses and schools, transports and distributes supplies, furnishes 
doctors, dentists, and schoolteachers, constructs roads, and acts as 
banker for the Natives. The Bureau employs two teachers on each of 
the two larger islands, and all children from six to sixteen are required 
to attend school. The Native workmen are divided into classes accord- 
ing to their ability to perform different tasks, and wages are fixed 
accordingly. In 1937 over 55,000 sealskins were taken, valued at over 
$251,000. In the twenty fiscal years from 1918-1937, inclusive, a net 
profit was made of over $2,200,000, in spite of heavy expenditures for 
a large reconstruction program that improved the living conditions 
of the Natives and the technical efficiency of the work. 

Three important herds of fur seals inhabit the North Pacific and 
represent three distinct but closely related species: the Alaskan, Rus- 
sian, and Japanese. The Alaska species {callorhinus ur sinus) is the 
most numerous and the finest in quality of fur. As its scientific name 
hints, the fur seal resembles the bear, and is really a kind of sea bear. 
The adult males are called bulls, the adult females, cows, the newly 
born are pups, and the young males, bachelors. There are no old 
maids. A seal family consists of a bull and any number of cows, called 
a harem, up to fifty. The full-grown male, measuring 6 to 7 feet long 
and weighing 400 pounds or more, is a ferocious fighter and protects 
his family against other seals or human danger. The female weighs 
only about 80 pounds. 

Each May a few pioneer males arrive on the Pribilofs. With the 
arrival of the June fogs males begin arriving by the thousands and 
fight for the best positions on the beach, their hoarse roars and sibilant 
whistles audible six miles away. Between June 12 and 14, as a rule, 
the cows, much smaller and gentler than the males, make their ap- 
pearance. The bulls choose their harems and take up their position 
with their families on the rookeries. The bachelor seals are not allowed 
to approach the cows, but take up their stations away from the 
rookeries. The younger bachelors frolic and lope over the sand 


incessantly, without growling or biting, or leap into the sea for a 
session of sea tag. The older bachelors, approaching seven years, fight 
among themselves and occasionally battle the bulls in an effort to take 
their harems. 

Two days after they arrive at the rookeries the cows, having been 
mated in the rookeries the previous year, give birth to their pups. 
After ten or twelve days of suckling their pups the cows return to the 
water, and after washing and playing around the islands, begin to 
make regular feeding trips of three or four days, at intervals of five 
or ten days, gorging themselves on squid, herring, salmon, and other 
fish. The bulls remain on the islands watching over the pups without 
eating or drinking, living on the fat they stored up during the winter. 
The bachelors, needing less food than the cows, spend most of their 
time sleeping on land or playing in the water instead of going on food 
trips. When the cold weather begins, the cows and their pups leave 
the islands together. Up to now the pups have been fed only by their 
mothers, who at last begin to teach them to catch fish for themselves. 
A little later most of the bachelors and bulls leave the Pribilofs, the 
latter thin and weak from their long fast and lousy from their long 
stay on the rookeries. In November and December the seals reappear 
off the coast of southern California, where they remain until time 
to make their long journey northward in March, In mild seasons a 
few of the males remain all winter on the Pribilofs. 

Only the bachelor seals are killed. The Natives approach slyly 
between the dozing bachelors and the surf, and with clubs drive them 
like so many sheep over to the killing grounds. Here the bachelors 
are skinned, the fur processed, and the carcasses made into meal and oil. 

The walrus, found mostly on Walrus Island, is but rarely taken 
for its meat, which is strong and rancid. Its hide, heavy and strong, 
is used for the skin-covered bidarf^as or \aya/{s by the Eskimos, and 
will withstand thumping and pounding on the rocks and alongside 
ships where wooden or even metal boats will fill and sink. The skin 
is also used in making heavy walking-shoes. From the ivory tusks are 
carved articles of use and trinkets for tourists. 

The north shore of the Alaska Peninsula, which steamers skirt 
on their way to Bristol Bay, is largely uninhabited, although sites of 
early villages of the Aleuts indicate that it was once thickly settled. 
As the warm waters of the Japan Current give way to the cold 
Bering Sea, the air becomes appreciably colder and the sea rougher. 


On a journey to Alaska in 1S99, John Burroughs refused to brave the 
Bering Sea until persuaded by John Muir, a fellow-scientist of the 
Harriman Expedition. 

But the waves won't keep level, 
They keep only mad revel; 
My poor head is aching 
And every nerve quaking, 
And oh, my interior 
Grows queerier, queerier, 

Muir quotes Burroughs as remonstrating. 

After a voyage of some 15 days out of Seward, steamers arrive at 
the town of Dillingham in Nushagak Bay (see Part II, 8). 


Dillingham — Platinum — Bethel — Nunivak Island — Fl.^t — Iditarod— 
McGrath — Takotna. 

Like many other remote areas in Alaska, Bristol Bay is a workroom 
rather than a playground, so that transportation is limited. The usual 
method of reaching Bristol Bay was until 1938 to make a two-week jour- 
ney on the passenger steamer Starr. The quickest method is to fly from 
Anchorage or Fairbanks. Once during the summer, and often twice, a 
freight and passenger vessel puts into Bethel, direct from Seward, touching 
at Unalaska. There may soon be put in operation on a regular schedule 
a 22-passenger twin-hulled Savoia-Marchetti flying boat from Seattle to 
Nome via Unalaska, Dillingham, and Bethel, which would make it pos- 
sible for tourists to visit conveniently the Aleutians, Bristol Bay, and the 
Kuskokwim country. In winter Bristol Bay freezes, and there is no means 
of transportation save by plane or dog team. 


THE SHALLOW WATERS of Bristol Bay, named by Captain 
Cook in 1778 in honor of the Admiral, ihc Earl of Bristol, are one 



of the greatest salmon-fishing areas of the world. Into this arm of the 
Bering Sea, at no place more than 300 feet deep, millions of salmon 
swim in the late summer and fall on their way to spawn in its tribu- 
tary rivers and lakes. 

Five kinds of salmon spawn in Alaska waters. The largest is the 
king salmon, known as the chinook on the Columbia River and as 
the spring salmon on Puget Sound. The king salmon has been known 
to weigh one hundred pounds, but the average specimen weighs about 
twenty-two pounds and is a beautiful silver with round black spots 
on the back, tail and dorsal fin. Its life span is from four to ten 
years. Its flesh ranges from red to white, separates in large flakes, has 
a soft texture and an abundance of oil. The Alaska red salmon, 
known as the sockeye on Puget Sound and the blueback on the 
Columbia River, has a blue tint on its back above the silver. It weighs 
around seven pounds and lives from five to six years in Alaska, but 
only four years in southern waters. This variety prefers rivers that 
have their headwaters in lakes, or that have lakes along their courses. 
Its flesh is a deep red, with much oil, and flakes in small pieces. 
The coho, silver, or medium red salmon is a silvery color merging 
into green on the back with faint black spots. It usually weighs about 
eight pounds, but some have been caught that weigh as much as 
thirty. Its life period is uniformly three years. It is less red than the 
Alaska red, but its flesh is firm and good. The pink salmon is the 
smallest and most numerous of the species, bluish above, silvery 
below, with many round black spots on the upper part and a few 
large black spots on the tail. The average weight is two pounds, and 
its life period is invariably two years. Its flesh has a delicate flavor 
and fine texture, but its abundance and its pale color bring the price 
very low. The chum, or keta, is silvery on the sides and sometimes 
sprinkled with small black specks and faint traces of gridlike bars 
that become more distinct as the sides become red with the advance 
of the spawning season. The average weight is nine pounds, and its 
life period three, four, or five years. It is the cheapest of all salmon, 
primarily because of the pale color of its flesh and because it is some- 
times low in oil. According to official tests, the paler-fleshed salmon 
are just as palatable and nutritious as the red-fleshed varieties. 

The salmon is hatched in fresh water where it remains for a couple 
of years and then descends to the sea. At the time of their migration 
they are still only a few inches long, but they grow rapidly in salt 


water, and two or three years later, now fully mature and weighing 
from five to eight pounds they return, each to its native stream or 
lake, to spawn and die. 

During this spawning migration salmon are taken for commercial 
use. The fishing season is limited to the brief period from June 25 to 
July 25, and during these few days the canneries in the area, with a 
total equipment representing more than $20,000,000 in investment, 
take out annually salmon worth about $12,000,000 in manufactured 
value and give employment to over 8,000 cannery workers and fisher- 
men. The stringent fishing regulations and the short season are 
designed to permit sufficient spawning salmon to escape the nets in 
order that the total number will not be decreased. 

Alaska fishermen and cannery operators were dismayed when it 
became known that Japanese floating canneries were anchoring well 
beyond the three-mile limit and using great nets (through which no 
salmon could pass), each a mile or more in length and extending 
from the bottom of the sea to the surface. For two weeks after the 
opening of the fishing season of 1937 American fishermen in Bristol 
Bay got almost no salmon, and the few thqy got were net-marked, 
although later runs brought the season's pack to a good average. 
Reports came from isolated spots that the Japanese were camping on 
shore, shooting reindeer and exchanging whiskey for supplies with the 
Aleuts. Finally, with aerial photographs of Japanese canneries in action 
and affidavits proving the Japanese were doing commercial fishing, in 
season and out, and wreaking damage on the salmon migration, the 
full effect of which would not be apparent for several seasons, the 
fishermen prepared to take matters into their own hands. American 
fishing vessels threatened to arm their crews with high-powered rifles 
and ammunition at the beginning of the 1938 season. As a result, 
Japanese fishermen promised, through a representative of a Japanese 
fishing company in Seattle, to abide by the agreement of the Japanese 
government originally made in 1935. In that year the Japanese Diet 
made an appropriation for a three-year investigation of the possibilities 
of deep-sea fishing in the Bristol Bay area, promising, however, to do 
no commercial fishing during that period. The following year the 
Ha/^uyo Mani, a Japanese government ship, appeared in Bristol Bay 
with a group of scientists and, with the knowledge and permission of 
the United States government, carried on experimental operations, 
packing some six hundred cases of salmon. With the three-year in- 


vestigation completed, Alaska fishermen are stoutly opposing a return 
of Japanese floating canneries, the operation of which would com- 
pletely nullify the value of protective regulations imposed on American 
fishermen and probably bring the Bristol Bay salmon close to total 
extinction within ten years. 

At a meeting of the Institute of Pacific Relations a Japanese scien- 
tist once remarked to an American member of the International 
Fisheries Commission, "You evidently think those salmon bear the 
Stars and Stripes on their backs." Since Bristol Bay has not been 
designated by the United States as a closed sea, foreign fishermen 
probably feel they have a certain technical justification in operating 
outside the three-mile limit. But with the entire salmon population 
of Bristol Bay threatened with extinction in the near future, Alaskans 
are answering the question, "Are Bristol Bay salmon United States 
citizens?" with a resounding "Yes!" 

During the fishing season a fleet of ocean-going vessels, honorably 
retired from active service elsewhere in the world, anchors in Bristol 
Bay. Because of the small and scattered working population of Alaska, 
the canneries import workers for the fishing season on these boats, 
which are also their living quarters. 

Entering Bristol Bay, the steamer passes Ugashik (84 pop.), a fish- 
ing village. Pilot Point is a near-by post office. Egegik (p.o., 86pop.) 
is another fishing village on Egegik ("swift" in Aleut) River, that 
drains west from Becharof Lake, 36 miles long, named after a master 
of the Russian navy who was at Kodiak in 1788. A channel through 
the rapids at the head of the river was completed in 19^8 at a cost of 
five thousand dollars. Naknf.k (p.o., i73pop.) is a fishing village in 
Kvichak Bay on Naknek River that drains Naknek Lake, between 
Becharof and Iliamna lakes. This village is the back door to Katmai 
National Monument, which includes part of Naknek Lake. Koggiung 
(p.o.) and Igiugig (p.o., 100 pop.) are setdements north of Naknek. 
The village of Kvichak is on the river of the same name that drains 
Iliamna Lake to Bristol Bay. Lake Iliamna, Alaska's largest lake, 60 
miles long by 15 to 25 miles wide, said to be the haunt of a giant black- 
fish, Iliamna, that bites holes in Native canoes, is an unspoiled beauty 
spot full of giant trout. A 15-pound rainbow trout, measuring 33 V2 
inches, caught in Newhalen River, in the Iliamna area, by Ray 
McDonald, is mounted and on exhibition in the offices of the Alaska 


Sportstjjan in Ketchikan. Frederick Hollander, who caught a 16V2- 
pound trout measuring 34^ inches in this river, says the fish here are 
"prehistoric in size and unbelievably numerous." Midway on the 
southern bank of the lake is located a comfortable roadhouse. Six 
miles above the lake, on Iliamna River, is the Native village of 
Iliamna (p.o., 100 pop.). NoNDALTON (p.o., 24pop.) is on Clark Lake 
at the source of the Newhalen River. Sportsmen find the easiest way 
to approach these fishing grounds is to fly directly from Anchorage. 
Many villages and canneries dot the shores of Bristol Bay and the 
banks of rivers emptying into it. The residents support themselves by 
fishing in summer and trapping in winter. Nushagak (43 pop.) is a 
Native settlement at the mouth of the Nushagak River. Here in 1818 
the Russians established a fortified trading post and called it Alex- 
androvsk, perhaps after Alexander Baranof who ordered it built. A 
Moravian mission (Carmel) was established near here at Kanulik 
late in the nineteenth century. 

Dillingham (p.o., 85 pop.) is dominated, both scenically and eco- 
nomically, by the huge cannery at the foot of the town, similar to 
many other huge red-leaded salmon canneries in Bristol Bay. During 
the 30-day salmon fishing season, the town is full of resident fisher- 
men, fishermen from other parts of Alaska, and fishermen brought 
in by the Star fishing fleet from the West Coast. The canneries supply 
boats, nets, and credit to anybody who wants to fish, and school- 
teachers, clerks, preachers, men, women, and children fish madly. 
Something of the old gold-rush flavor haunts the town during the 
fishing fever, and the local jailhouse is usually crowded. The marshal 
has a reputation of being very stern with the prisoners — he makes 
them catch salmon for dog food, haul coal and supplies, and if they 
don't return to the jailhouse by 9 p.m. they are locked out for the 
night. The only other arm of the law, beside the local game warden, 
who polices an area bigger than New England, is the floating court, 
■which holds sessions once a year at ports on the Aleutians and Bristol 
Bay aboard a coastguard vessel, passing sentences on prisoners charged 
with serious crimes, and naturalizing new citizens. 

At Dillingham there is a school, movie house, trading posts, two 
restaurants, but no hotel — the only lodging place is the Bunkhouse, 
for men only, built like the cabin of a ship, with tiers of wooden 
bunks. In the Bunkhouse is posted the following: 



This Bunkhouse is erected to accommodate trappers, miners, fishermen, 
and travelers. When you register here we will try to make you as comfort- 
able as possible, but in doing this we will need your cooperation in order 
to make it a success. Drunks who are inclined to get noisy or quarrelsome 
will not be tolerated. All unnecessary noise must cease at 11 p.m. Someone 
may come here to sleep. Day and night taxi-service. Special rates to Bunk- 
house guests. Any correspondence or typing will be done by the under- 
signed at a reasonable price. Any grievance you may have with plumbing 
features, etc., let us know and if possible same will be rectified. L. E. Slum- 
berger, Day & Night Clerk. 

With only 5^4 miles of road in the district, there are twenty-one 
automobiles in use. At Kanakanak (p.o., lyypop.), on this road, is 
a radio station, a hospital, and a school, the latter in process of being 
converted into a jailhouse. Besides serving as the metropolis of the 
Bristol Bay fishing area, Dillingham is also the center for the trappers 
up river. Ekwok (p.o., 25pop.), Aleknagik (p.o,, 3opop.) and Clark's 
Point (p.o., 25 pop.) are villages in the Dillingham area. 

The unfair system of employing contract labor, where a contractor 
supplies a given number of temporary laborers, mostly Mexicans, 
Filipinos and Chinese, to fishing companies in the Bristol Bay area, 
paying them miserably low wages, has been abolished, and labor is 
now employed directly by the companies themselves. The system of 
contract labor encouraged bad feeling between the Mexicans, Filipinos, 
Chinese, and whites, bur the increasing organizations of the Bristol 
Bay cannery workers by the Alaska Cannery Workers Union on an 
industrial basis has done much to dissipate racial prejudice on both 
sides, as well as bettering working conditions in the area. 

At Dillingham, freight and passenger vessels, unable to dock 
because of the lack of a harbor, unload by lighter. 


No regular steamers operate between Dillingham and Bethel. Although 
there are no regularly scheduled planes, during good weather many planes 
arrive and depart from the mud Hats of Dillingham to and from Goodnews 
Bay and Bethel. The traveler to Bethel should make arrangements with 
his pilot to pause at Goodnews Bay, scene of the latest mining rush — this 
time not gold but platinum. Planes used in summer in this area are all 


equipped with pontoons, and the pilot, with a book, of tide-tables and with 
hip boots, carries his passengers to and from the plane pickaback. 

ToGiAK (71 pop.) and Mumtrak are Eskimo villages on Togiak 
Bay and Goodnews Bay, respectively. The post office is Goodxews 
Bay. The bay itself, which indents the coast a little south of the mouth 
of the Kuskokwim River, was so named by Sarichef in 1826. Liitke 
thought "it might better be called the 'Bay of False Reports.' " 

Platinum (p.o., 50 pop. est. 1938) is at the foot of Red Mountain 
on the south spit of Goodnews Bay, which indents the mainland coast 
a little south of the mouth of the Kuskokwim River. Until the stam- 
pede of 1937, the village consisted only of a few Native huts and a 
trading post. It had in 1938 three stores, Berg's Roadhouse, the 
Stampede Inn, and a number of private houses and tents. Traces of 
platinum were first discovered on the south end of Red Mountain in 
what is now known as Fox Gulch in 1927 by an Eskimo, Johnnie 
Kilbuck, who announced that he had found "white gold"; and the 
first recorded production of platinum from Goodnews Bay was made 
in that year, consisting of 17'/^ ounces. Up to 1934, a total of some 
3,000 ounces was mined, and about 8,000 ounces for each of the years 
1935 and 1936. In 1937 platinum was worth forty-eight dollars an 

On October 28, 1936, three Alaska miners who were hand-drilling 
a hole through beach gravels near the mouth of Goodnews River hit 
a serpentine bedrock at thirty-eight feet, with a heavy layer of platinum 
gravel said to be worth about three dollars a cubic yard. When the 
miners went Outside to get machinery to work their property, re- 
porters picked up the story, snow-balled it, and a new Alaska stampede 
was born. Several miles were staked in the lower Goodnews River 
area, new prospectors arrived almost daily by plane from Anchorage 
and by private boat from Nushagak and Bethel, and tent cities sprang 
up at Platinum and at the old Native village of Mumtrak. 

None of the lower river area can be prospected by pick and pan 
methods. Centuries of erosion have washed a heavy accumulation of 
sand and gravel from the hills and buried bedrock to depths of from 
forty to sixty feet under the surface. Since the water table, there is close 
to surface, pumps and light power drills are a necessity. 

The situation is difTerent up-river, beyond the tidal flats where 
the river snakes a sluggish course between low grassy banks lined 


with willow and alder. Above this, where the current averages seven 
to eight miles an hour, the overburden decreases rapidly; so that along 
Bear and Watermuse creeks, from which much of the gold-platinum- 
osmiridium production came before 1938, bedrock lies at depths of but 
eighteen to twenty feet, down to twelve and even eight and six feet 
below the surface. 

There are at least two other creeks in this district which have been 
producing gold and platinum, with some osmiridium (a combination 
of osmium and iridium, worth about $110 an ounce) from their 
placers. Westward over a low divide is the Arolic River, where placers 
were first worked on Butte Creek, in 1900, in Fox and Snow gulches, 
in 1906, and on Trail and Kowkow creeks about 1913. 

The largest development program in the region is that of the 
Goodnews Bay Mining Company, which secured a $550,000 loan from 
the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and constructed a large 
dredge on the site of their operations in the summer of 1937. 

The bedrock source of the platinum metals is yet to be found. A 
knowledge of the lode material from which the placers have been 
derived may lead to the discovery of new platinum placers, and pos- 
sibly to the location of rich platinum lode deposits. 

The Goodnews Bay area consists mostly of low, rolling hills, with 
neither brush nor trees, except along a few sheltered creek beds. 
The whole is covered with a mossy tundra, and during the summer 
months there is a wide variety of wild flowers. The soil is acid, and 
with the rainy and windy climate of the region, it is very unsatisfac- 
tory for agricultural purposes. There are large herds of reindeer, 
twenty-five thousand having been reported in the area. Ducks and 
geese of several species breed along the streams, where there are 
many mink, muskrat, and \vhite and red foxes. 

KwiNHAGAK (p.o., 20opop. cst. 1938) is an Eskimo village at the 
mouth of the Kanektok River. There is a Moravian mission here. 
Bethel (p.o., a'Spop., mostly Natives) lies near the mouth of the 
Kuskokwim River, a fishing and fur-raising settlement, and is in the 
center of an important mining district. A forty-two-bed hospital was 
erected here in 1938 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Bethel was 
founded in 1885 by William H. Weinland and John H. Kilbrick as a 
Moravian mission. 

The great drainage basin of the Kuskokwim River is second only 


to the Yukon in size and in the importance of its mineral resources. 
There has been some mining in the region since 1900, but only in 
widely scattered spots, since its isolation and inaccessibility, before the 
wide use of planes, made exploration and development far too costly. 
Here, as in so many other remote areas of Alaska, pioneer prospectors 
have afforded about all the information available on what is one of 
the largest and most important undeveloped mineral areas in the 

The high cost of mining has, up to the last few years, confined 
mining to the production of placer gold. Quicksilver ores have been 
known in the region since 1880, and they were examined to some ex- 
tent before 1898, although there was no quicksilver output until about 
1906. Placer gold was found and worked in the Goodnews area, in 
the shallow gravels of Butte Creek on the upper Arolic River, in 
1900. From this point, prospecting continued northward, and placers 
were discovered all through a zone that extends north across the 
Kuskokwim at Georgetown to include the placers of Iditarod, Innoko, 
and Ruby. 


Every summer one or more vessels makes a special cruise to Bering Sea, 
but the coast and coastal country north of Bethel to the mouth of the 
Yukon is seldom visited. 

Between the mouths of the Kuskokwim and the Yukon is a coun- 
try full of sizable rivers and lakes, most of them unnamed, obviously 
owing their courses and outlines to the draftsman's squiggling pen, 
even on the latest maps. The district is little known and inhabited 
only by a few scattered Eskimo villages. At Hooper Bay (p.o., 
254 pop. est. 1939) is a Native school and Catholic mission. Two boats 
call annually, one for the mission, one for the school. The town is 
known to the Eskimos as Napareyaramiut. Kashunuk (163 pop.) is a 
Native settlement and reindeer station. Dall Lake, in the delta between 
the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers, is drained by the uncharted Kinak 
River. The lake was named for William Healey Dall, dean of living 
Alaska explorers and historians. He went to Alaska in 1S65 in the 
employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company. In 1S71 he entered 
the Coast Survey, became a member of the Geological Survey in 1884, 


and was on the Harriman Expedition in 1889. Dall is the author of 
some fifty charts and plans issued by the Coast Survey and of Alasl^a 
and Its Resources and the Alaska Coast Pilot. Nunivak Island, well 
below the delta of the Yukon and some distance above Kuskokwim 
Bay, was discovered by Vasilief in 1821. EtoUn came upon it about 
the same time, and the northernmost point of the island bears his 
name. Etolin was governor of the Russian America Company, 
1841-5, and one of the great explorers of the early nineteenth century. 
In 1882 he made a survey of the coast from Bristol Bay to Cape 
Newenham, and for eighty years his were the only charts covering this 
area. Nunivak is little visited by travelers. Over 50 miles long, most 
of the time fogbound, its climate is akin to Arctic islands hundreds of 
miles farther north. It has no trees, but is covered with lichens, sedges, 
and shrubs. About two hundred Natives live on Nunivak and make 
rather good black pottery and elaborate carvings in ivory, almost 
like small totem poles. 

In the summer of 1936 a herd of musk ox numbering twenty-seven 
head, imported from Greenland, was transferred to the island and 
placed under the care of Paul Ivanof, the local trader. When the 
herd has increased to two hundred, it is planned to take selected 
groups, ship them northward, and scatter them throughout the polar 
regions where once their ancestors roamed in large numbers, to pro- 
vide the Eskimos with a ready source of meat. 

The musk ox, a tough and ornery critter, is one of the few 
animals of the north that can withstand the terrible charge of the 
Arctic wolf. A full-sized animal weighs from 500 to 600 pounds, has 
short legs, coarse wool overlaid with matted guard hair that grows to 
eighteen inches, a bony head with heavy curling horns, is absolutely 
untameable, and will eat the toughest brush that grows. Herds of 
cows up to thirty in number follow the leadership of the bull. Breed- 
ing takes place in August, and birth in April. After reaching the age 
of four, cows give birth to young in alternate years. The flesh is 
powerfully impregnated with the flavor of musk. 

Prior to the repopulation measures taken by the Alaska Game 
Commission in cooperation with the Bureau of Biological Survey, the 
last musk ox in Alaska was killed at Barrow in 1865. For thousands 
of years these animals had been following the lip of the receding 
ice cap over the face of the hemisphere, from Kentucky to above the 
Arctic Circle. Once above the Circle they became the victims of 


isolated Eskimos, whalers, and predatory animals such as bears. Their 
place in the economic life of the Eskimo has been taken by the 


From Bethel, planes are regularly operated to Fairbanks, with a short 
stopover at McGrath (consult travel agents for current schedules). 

Akiak (p.o., 228 pop., mostly Natives) is 30 miles above Bethel on 
the Kuskokwim River. Seventy miles fuither is Kalskag (p.o.). Aniak 
(p.o.) is on the river of the same name, where gold was discovered 
by a Russian trader, Simensen Lukeen, in 1832. He built a fort twenty- 
five miles above the mouth of the Aniak River, which he called Yellow 
River. The fort was destroyed in 1841 and rebuilt by another Russian 
trader, Kamakoff. The Yellow River gold stampede occurred in 1906- 
10. Napamute (p.o., II I pop.) is a Native village with a general store, 
75 miles south of Iditarod, on the Kuskokwim. Further up the river 
are Crooked Creek (p.o.) and Georgetown, Sleitmut or Sleetmute 
(p.o.), mining and fur-breeding settlements. Stony River (p.o., 7 pop.) 
is a trading post and outfitting point for trappers and prospectors on 
an island in the Kuskokwim at the mouth of Stony River. Flat 
(p.o., i24pop.) on the Iditarod River is a mining camp, with two 
general stores, several roadhouses, and a cafe. In 1937 the production 
of gold in this district totaled over $700,000. Flat claims a summer 
population of 350, and the residents say for themselves, "We aren't 
very good, because we have no church; we aren't very bad, because 
we have no jail." Sandy Smith, a prospector and trail blazer from 
the early days of the Klondike rush, established the Snyder House 
on Flat Creek, operated on a four-shift plan, the roomers getting 
six hours' sleep for $2.50. The enterprise was a success, and having 
made a large sum Sandy moved on to invest it in oil lands. The first 
strike in the district was made at Iditarod (125 pop. est. 1938) on the 
Iditarod River, 300 miles above the junction of the Innoko and Yukon 
rivers, connected with Flat by boat during high water. In 1908 John 
Beaton and Harry Dyckman went up the Iditarod River and pros- 
pected several of the creeks in the area. Discovery Claim, staked by 
them on Christmas Day, proved to be among the best paying claims 
of the district. Several stampedes occurred in the area, especially after 
the discovery of rich ground near Flat in 1910. In 1912 Guggenheim 


interests put a dredge into service on Fiat Creelc, wliich in its first 
iliree months of operation recovered $440,000 wortli of gold. This 
dredge continued operations until 191 8, when it reached the townsite 
of Flat and was dismantled and shipped to the Malay Peninsula, 
Two other dredges were in operation in 1937 near Flat, and fifteen 
companies were operating with equipment ranging from large dredges 
to small hydraulic plants. Since the first strikes, about $30,000,000 
worth of gold has been taken out of the district. 

McGrath (p.o., ii2pop.) is at the confluence of the Kuskokwim 
and Takotna rivers, about 350 miles from the headwaters of the 
Kuskokwim. Mt. McGrath has an altitude of 6,170 feet. McGrath is 
the transfer point for freight bound for the upper Kuskokwim. Most 
planes flying out of Anchorage and Fairbanks to Bristol Bay, the 
Kuskokwim, and the lower Yukon country traverse McGrath. The 
airport is small, but planes sometimes use a bar on the Kuskokwim 
in summer and the frozen Takotna River in winter as landing fields. 
The principal activities of the settlement are freighting, mining, and 
trapping. A game warden is stationed permanently in an excellent 
building. There is a schoolhouse (attended by six pupils), four gen- 
eral stores, a sawmill, and a roadhouse. McGrath was settled by Abe 
Appel, who staked a trading site there in 1905. The Yellow River 
stampede of 1906 brought many persons to the Kuskokwim, and 
some of them settled in McGrath. There were remains of an old 
Indian village near by, but no Natives. One of the reasons perhaps 
was the absence of game. When an old Native was asked why the 
Natives had left, he replied, "Too much water all time — everybody 
die." Disastrous floods are common, and most of the residents on the 
Takotna River side of the town have to move to high ground almost 
every spring. A third of the population is itinerant, spending the 
spring and summer months in McGrath and trapping within a radius 
of from twenty to two hundred miles from the town in winter. Folger 
(p.o.) is a roadhouse a few miles from McGrath. Medfra (p.o., 
24 pop), 10 miles north of McGrath, is a center of mink and marten 
farms and has a general store. A road has been projected from 
McGrath to Takotna (p.o., 65 pop.), a mining camp on the river of 
the same name. Ophir (p.o., pop. in 1938, 12 women and 2 children) 
is a summer mining camp a few miles north of Takotna. It is named 
for the region which supplied the gold for Solomon's temple. 


St. Michael — Nome — St. Lawrence Island — King Islam 
Islands — Teller. 


Upon the arrival at Marshall of the Alaska Railroad Yukon River 
steamer from Nenana, connection is made with a Northern Commercial 
Company boat running between Marshall and St. Michael. Steamer pas- 
sage from St. Michael to Nome is infrequent, de{')ending upon movement 
of freight. 


NORTON SOUND was explored and mapped by Captain James 
Cook in 1778. In 1883 Andrei Glazunof, born of a Russian father and 
an Aleut mother, conducted an overland expedition from Norton 
Sound to the Anvich River, thence down it to the Yukon. 

St. Michael (p.o., 147 pop., mostly Natives) is a port on St. Michael 
Island, 125 miles southeast of Nome, on Norton Sound. A fortiiaed 
trading post called Redoubt St. Michael after Captain Michael 
Tcbenkof, later governor of the Russian America Company, who 
charted the vicinity in 1831, was established here in 1833. It has a 
Territorial schocjl, a Roman Catholic church, two stores, and a road- 



house. About 65 miles north of St. Michael is Unalakleet (p.o., 261 
pop., mostly Natives) on Unalakleet River. Fishing, trapping, and 
reindeer herding are the principal occupations of its inhabitants, who 
have increased to 355 since 1930. It has a Native school, a Swedish 
Lutheran mission church, a government nurse, a store, a roadhouse, 
reindeer corrals, commercial truck gardens, and an airport. A telephone 
line connects with Nulato on the Yukon River and a radio telephone 
maintains daily contact with the United States Signal Corps at Nome. 
The Unalakleet River furnishes good trout and salmon fishing. Natives 
celebrate the Fourth of July and New Year's Day by playing old 
Eskimo games. Still standing is part of an old blockhouse built when 
the village was established by Russians, shortly after an epidemic 
had practically wiped out the old village of Unalakleet, which was 
situated across the river from the present site. Shaktolik (104 pop.) 
is an Eskimo village at the mouth of Shaktolik River, 38 miles north of 

Besroro Island, in Norton Sound, named by Cook in 1778, is an 
uninhabited rock visible from the Fairbanks-Nome plane. North of 
Norton Bay on Dime Creek is Haycock (p.o., 74 pop., mostly Na- 
tives), a mining camp and fur-trapping village on Seward Peninsula, 
with a Territorial school. In 1822 the Russian explorers Etolin and 
Vasilief explored Norton Sound along its eastern and northern 
shore, naming Golovnin Bay, on which is Golovnin (p.o., 135 pop., 
mostly Natives), about 90 miles east of Nome. This mining camp is 
situated in the rich Golovnin Bay mining district, has telephone 
connection with Nome, St. Michael and Council, an airport, a Terri- 
torial school, a roadhouse, a reindeer cold-storage plant and corrals, 
two herring salteries, and several stores. White Mountain (p.o., 
205pop.) is a fishing village on the Fish River near Golovnin Bay, 
with a Native day school, and a store. It has telephone service to 
Nome. About 65 miles east of Nome is Bluff, a mining camp, where 
gold placer, gold quartz, and cinnabar mining are done. Solomon 
(p.o., 25 pop. est. 1933) is a mining camp on the river of the same 
name, with a roadhouse and a store, the coast terminus and shipping 
point of Council. Council (p.o., i09pop. est. 1933) is the center of 
a rich placer-mining district and has a Territorial school, a store, 
and a roadhouse. A citizen of Council, who says that he is jokingly 
called the mayor, describes the village in December, 1938, as a ghost 


town, "slightly stirring since the price of gold went up or the price 
of money went down. We average twenty-five votes at election time, 
sometimes a few more when some are kind of imported for some 
good cause. Everybody does about as he pleases. As for transporta- 
tion, our place is a kind of dogbus and horsebus and tractorbus station. 
We have a good landing port, for we built it. There is a roadhouse — 
dollar a night if you are not afraid in the dark. Dollar a meal. So 
much a drink — depending upon how many you have had or how 
drunk you are. If you like a decent place to eat and sleep, you can 
put up with us. Our rates are delightful, as we seldom charge. We 
have a telephone line to Nome: $15.50 a month to have the instrument 
in your home or shack, and you do all the servicing. If you still want 
to talk to Nome it will only cost you a toll of $2.50, plus 20 cents 
new tax. And you might have to wait two weeks before they fix the 
line, if it is down. The town has no cultural organizations, but there 
are a number of good books. Once a little paper was published under 
the name Council City News. Now the Council City News walks 
about on two honest old legs, doing no one any harm. In its heyday 
Council had fourteen big saloons with connected gambling places and 
brothels. All the famous citizens are dead or gone, some 'infamous' 
are still here. The chief annual event of interest is shooting out the 
old year and in the new. As for tours in the neighborhood — you can 
go out to any of the creeks and see any of the workings for gold. 
You can work for gold yourself, even. We will furnish you any 
needed and reasonable information when the time comes." 


The quickest and most convenient way of reaching northwestern 
Alaska is by plane from Fairbanks. 

Several steamers serve Nome in summer, from Seattle by way of Un- 
alaska. In winter all ports in northwestern Alaska are ice bound. 

The climate of Seward Peninsula, in northwestern Alaska, is 
sharply divided into summer and winter, or the open and closed 
seasons. During October freezing weather begins, and by the end of 
that month harbors are frozen and navigation is closed until June. 
Winter temperatures run from io° above to 20° below zero, and 
occasional cold snaps push the mercury to 35° below. Winter tempera- 
tures are steadier than in the midwestern states, thaws rarely occurring 


during winter. During the summer the weather is consistently warm 
but not hot, ranging from 45° to 75°. 

The ground, perpetually frozen at a depth of from one to i^/z 
feet, is covered with weeds, sedge, and browse, with willows and 
alders along the creeks. Two hundred and seventy-eight named 
varieties of flowering plants are known within 50 miles of Nome, 
besides about 150 species of mosses, lichens, ferns, fungi and algae. 
Some timber is found on the peninsula, but none in the immediate 
vicinity of Nome. 

Vitus Bering discovered and named St. Lawrence Island on St, 
Lawrence's Day, August lo, 1728. He sailed through Bering Strait, 
rounding East Cape, Siberia, and established the fact that the land east 
of Siberia was not part of Asia. He did not sight Alaska on this voy- 
age, but Michael Gvozdef is supposed to have touched the continent in 
1732. His journal contains an accurate description of the Diomede 
Islands and speaks of a continent to the east which his expedition 
skirted for several days, thinking it would prove to be an island. "The 
coast was sand and there were dwellings on the shore, and a number 
of people. There was also timber on this land, spruce, and earth." After 
sailing for five days the water became too shallow for the boats. It is 
only on Norton Sound that timber comes to the shore, and the shallow 
water beyond suggests the shoals of the Yukon River. Although 
Captain Cook explored the coast of Seward Peninsula in 1778, the in- 
terior was not penetrated to any great extent until the great gold rush 
of 1900. 

Nome (p.o., 1500 pop. % white, est. 1938), a port on the south 
side of Seward Peninsula on the Bering Sea, 2,300 nautical miles 
from Seatde, 500 miles west of the Hawaiian Islands and 150 miles 
south of the Arctic Circle, is the metropoUs of northwestern Alaska. 
A modern town with all conveniences, governored by a mayor and 
council, Nome lies at the very edge of a sloping beach, its front yard 
a bleak shore pounded by surf, its back yard consisting of mile upon 
mile of moss-covered tundra and low, rolling hills. The alternate thaw- 
ing and freezing of the soil twists the underpinnings of the buildings 
and causes them to shift and lean, giving them an air of desolation 
even when they are fairly new. The sidewalks are all of plank, and 
the streets planked or graveled. 

Since Nome is south of the Arctic Circle it does not lose sight of 


the sun in winter, nor does it have midnight sun in summer. In winter 
on the shortest day the sun is up a hiilc less than four hours, and in 
summer on the longest day the sun is out of sight only a little over 
two hours. From the first days of May until the middle of August 
there is no darkness, and thus Nome has as many possible hours of 
sunlight as any part of continental United States, and more daylight 
a year than any. 

Freight and passenger service is afforded by boat from Seattle 
and other districts in Alaska during the navigation season (June- 
October). Vessels make about eight or ten trips each summer, anchor- 
ing well off the shoal water near the town, which has no harbor. 
Commerce from Nome in 1936 amounted to 21,265 tons, valued at 
$4,796,000. Three airplane companies carry passengers, mail, and 
freight to and from Nome the year round, and for short hauls trucks 
and horses in summer and dog teams in winter are used. Since 1919, 
all road construction and repairs, as well as the staking of trails and 
the building of shelter cabins, has been done by the Alaska Road 
Commission. A highway has been proposed to reach from Nulato, on 
the Yukon River, to Teller by way of Nome. It is the dream of 
Donald McDonald, Alaska highway engineer, that this road may be 
extended to the International Highway on the southeast and cross 
Bering Strait on the northwest, linking New York and Paris by auto- 
mobile road. Experts estimate that the journey from Juneau to Nome 
would today take 82 days by dog team, but nobody attempts the 
journey, travelers preferring to fly in two days, with an overnight 
stop at Fairbanks. 

A new Federal building in Nome, completed at a total cost of 
$400,000 in 1938, houses the post office and many other Federal agen- 
cies stationed here at the headquarters of the Second Division. Nome's 
municipal affairs are under the direction of a mayor and council, sup- 
ported by property taxation. Tourist information is supplied by the 
Northwestern Alaska Chamber of Commerce. The town maintains 
a fire and a police department, and has the benefit of such pri- 
vately owned utilities as electricity, telephone, garbage service, and 
central steam heating. A graded public school and a high school are 
maintained by the city, and Native children have their own graded 
school under the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Nome operates a modern 
hospital. There is a Catholic and two Protestant churches — the 
former ministering to both whites and Natives, the latter divided into 


a Methodist Native church and a Federated Protestant white church. 
There are many clubs, lodges, and societies, a daily newspaper — the 
famous Nome Nugget (price 15 cents a copy, $2 monthly), a movie, 
a bank, several hotels, and a variety of stores, restaurants, and shops. 
An annual fair held during the latter part of March and the first 
days of April lasts for four days — and nights. There are exhibits of 
Native products, mining, household economics, handicraft and needle- 
work, furs and fur-bearing animals, art, reindeer, flowers and vege- 
tables, and many more. Visitors from all over Alaska attend the fair, 
taking advantage of special one-way rates for the round trip offered 
by the airplane companies. At Nome is also held the Farthest North 
Bench Show for Malemute and Siberian Dogs. During Fair Week oc- 
curs the famous All-Alaska Championship Dog Race (158 miles) from 
Nome to Golovnin and return. The record time for this race, 15 hrs., 
13 min., 17 sec, was made by an Eskimo, Alfred Kiggatelluk. 

The annual Dog Derby was initiated by "Scotty" Allen, former 
member of the Alaska Legislature and "the greatest dog-musher that 
ever swung on the handle bars of a sled," whose dog, Baldy, a famous 
Malemute, developed into one of the most intelligent, courageous and 
strongest lead dogs in Alaska. This race was from Nome to Candle 
and return, 408 miles over bleak, timberless country swept by sudden 
blizzards. The record time of 74 hrs., 14 min., 22 sec. was made by 
John Johnson, a Finn. It was a gruelling course; as much as a half- 
million dollars was bet on a single race; dishonest drivers doped com- 
peting dogs, crippled them with blankets lined with porcupine quills 
hidden in the snow, switched their own dogs; a telephone wire was 
strung along the entire course to announce the progress of the 25 
or more contesting teams; a daily "dog-dope" sheet was published, and 
the entire camp went dog mad. Although the dog-racing fever has 
subsided like the gold fever, the modern race is a picturesque and 
exciting affair, from the moment when the Queen in her fur parka 
drops the starting flag until the end of the race, when drivers struggle 
in, perhaps harnessed to the sled with the huskies, pulling on the sled 
dead teammates, killed by the pace, that the rules of the race require 
the contestant to bring back. 

In 1925, during the diphtheria epidemic at Nome, serum had to 
be carried from Nenana, 650 miles away, by relays of dog teams. The 
last stage into Nome was made by Balto, who thus became a world- 
famous dog. A monument was erected to him in Central Park, New 


York City, Leonard Scppala, one of the great dog trainers of the 
north, who twice won the All-Alaska Sweepstakes, says that Balto 
was only a "newspaper hero," and that the true hero of that life-and- 
death race was Togo, who made the long run of over 200 miles. 

The word Nome as the name of the town and neighboring cape is 
a draftsman's error. When the manuscript chart of the region was 
being prepared on board the British vessel Herald attentio